Congress, the President, and the War Powers (Fundamental Principles of Government)

This lesson will explore the implementation of the war-making power from the first declared war under the Constitution—the War of 1812—to the Iraq War. Using primary sources, students will investigate how the constitutional powers to initiate war have been exercised by the legislative and executive branches at several key moments in American history. They will also evaluate why and how the balance of authority in initiating war has changed over time, and the current balance of power.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Federal Government
Lesson Plans

Core Documents Collection: The Cold War

This collection of documents on the Cold War continues TeachingAmericanHistory.org’s extended series of document collections covering major periods, themes and institutions in American history and government. The volume covers American aid to Europe in the early years of the Cold War and American intervention in subsequent years in conflicts around the world to contain the spread of Soviet power. Its documents also explore the dometic effects of the Cold War, chronicling how national security concerns affected relations between American citizens and between Americans and their government. Each volume includes:

Key documents on the period, theme or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
Study questions for each document as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context

Grades 10, 11, 12
History
Modules (Teaching Unit)

Major Events of the Cold War

In this lesson, students will use short video clips to learn about major events occurring during the Cold War, the causes of these events, and their impact on the U.S., Soviet Union, and the world. Students will summarize this information by providing a written response that analyzes the legacy of the Cold War.

Women & the American Story: A Nation Divided, 1832-1877

This free curriculum unit from the New-York Historical Society delves into the ways women participated in all aspects of the Civil War and on both sides of the conflict, from the early debate over the expansion of slavery through the end of federal Reconstruction. Materials examine this pivotal moment in American history through the experiences of diverse women and consider how the war and then Reconstruction policies shaped their lives.

Grades 8, 9-12, 6, 7
History
Media

NHD Breaking Barriers: Americans and Native Americans

From the colonial era, relations between European settlers and Native American nations have been complicated. In 1803 Congress authorized and funded an expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark for exploration of the region and for better knowledge about American Indians of the Northwest in order to develop trade. About 30 years later, the United States forced the removal of Native Americans from their lands to make way for white American settlement. Congress and the president made treaties with Native American nations, but those treaties were not always respected as the United States continued to expand into the west. After Native Americans enlisted and served in both World War I and World War II, Congress passed legislation to begin to address longstanding Native Americans claims against the United States Government.

What Should the U.S. Do About North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons?

The United States and North Korea are involved in escalating tensions related to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The U.S. opposes North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons. The Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, however, believes he needs nuculear weapons to remain in power. While war with North Korea is probably not imminent, the prospect has caused alarm. A nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea would have devastating consequences.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

Grade 9-12 The Dynamics of War Powers

This three-part lesson asks students to think critically about the nature of the War Powers identified by the Constitution. Beginning with the historical foundations of the War Powers as written in the Constitution, students will explore why the Founders identified the War Powers as they did, using primary sources to back up their arguments. Students will then consider how War Powers have changed over time, evaluating the evolving dynamic of powers between the three branches of government.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

Cold War Document Based Question

Utilizing primary source documents from the archives of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan, this piece of curriculum is modeled after the Advanced Placement Document Based Questions. This question invites students to explore U.S. Cold War foreign policy through the lens the office of the presidency, and to develop crucial critical thinking and writing skills.