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A More Perfect Union: American Independence and the Constitution
In A More Perfect Union: American Independence and the Constitution students revisit the events and controversies of 1763-88 to gain a deeper understanding of the political climate of the era and the values that contributed to the political foundation of the United States. In exploring the parallels between the debates of 1776 and 1788 and our country's current political discourse, students will gain an insight into many of the issues that define our own age.
The readings place students in the context of the late 1700s as they prepare to consider the policy debate surrounding the American struggle for independence. Students examine Britain's colonialization of North America and the factors shaping colonial society as well as the points of contention that drew the colonies away from the mother country after the French and Indian War. The text also explores the principles and shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation, considers the economic divisions emerging in the young American republic, probes the most controversial sections of the constitution proposed in 1787 and reviews the evolution of the U.S. Constitution's scope and meaning over the past two centuries.
The Choices Role Play
A More Perfect Union: American Independence and the Constitution contains two sets of options. The first set focuses on the debate surrounding the American rebellion from the mother country at the early stages of the War for Independence. The second set of options revolves around the ratification of the proposed constitution in 1787. Each option is grounded in a clearly defined philosophy about the nature of government and the threats and opportunities facing an independent American republic. By exploring a broad spectrum of alternatives, students gain a deeper understanding of the competing values and assumptions that framed the debates of the late 1700s. Ultimately, the intent is to help students clarify their thoughts about the origins of the American experiment, articulate their own views on the role of government, and apply the lessons of history to the challenges facing Americans today.
Rethinking the Purpose of Government
In small groups students develop the foundations of a new society. In so doing they analyze the sources of political conflict in the late colonial period.
Balancing Competing Values
Students distinguish between values and interests while considering responses to case studies that reflect controversies from the 1763-75 period.
February 1776: Role-Playing Four Options
Working cooperatively to advocate for one of the four options the public considered in 1776, students draw upon primary sources and take into consideration the views of fictional colonists.
Democratization in the United States
Using data and evidence, students analyze trends toward democratization and evaluate the underpinnings of U.S. democracy.
The Articles of Confederation
Students identify the weaknesses in the Articles by reading case studies in small groups.
Revisiting the Constitutional Convention
As delegates, students grapple with the critical issues raised in Philadelphia and draw upon historical evidence to develop coherent arguments.
February 1788: Role-Playing Three Options
As fictional characters at an inn, students debate the competing options for the Constitution.
Judging the Past
By developing criteria for portraying the past, students begin to assess the perspectives and standards that shape historiography.
Reassessing the Constitution
Students brainstorm modern challenges facing the United States, and articulate their own views on individual rights and the purpose of government.