Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Rediscovering George Washington
Washington: Father of His Country The Washington Collection
Washington in the Classroom About the Program
Timeline: George Washington's Life Milestones
Multimedia Room Search the Site
Lesson Plans
The Constitution and the Idea of Compromise
Why Celebrate Constitution Day?
George Washington as Military Leader
The Theory of the American Founding, Part 1: Why Government?
The Theory of the American Founding, Part 2: Why Government by Consent?
The Theory of the American Founding, Part 3: Why Equal Protection of the Law?
George Washington and Religious Liberty
George Washington and the Problem of Slavery
George Washington and the Rule of Law
George Washington and Civic Virtue
Curriculum Developers
Printable Version
Lesson Plan
The Theory of the American Founding, Part One: Why Government?

Overview

This lesson discusses the idea of government – what government is, and why, from the point of view of the American Founders, government is not only necessary, but good, for human beings. Discussion questions follow the reading.


Objective

Students will analyze historical evidence including primary sources to understand why human nature indicates that government is necessary and good for citizens.


Standards

National Council for the Social Studies: Thematic Strands I, II, V, VI, X
Arizona Academic Standards, Social Studies: 1SS-E17, E18; 2SS-E3, E7, P1, P5, P10
California History-Social Science Content Standards: 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4; 11.1; 12.1, 12.2
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills: Social Studies 8.1, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.16, 8.21, 8.23; U.S. Government 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16


Bibliography

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, The Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter, with Introduction and notes by Charles Kesler (New York: Mentor Books, 1999).


Suggested Procedure:
  1. Write the word “government” on the board. Ask students what government is, and what government is supposed to do, and write some of their answers next to the word “government.” Then ask students whether they believe government is necessary, and, if so, why.
  2. After suggesting to students that maybe people can live together as neighbors and friends without government, distribute copies of the reading, "The Theory of the American Founding, Part One: Why Government?"
  3. Have students work individually or in groups to read the essay and complete the study questions. With the entire class, discuss the reading and the student responses to the questions.
Previous Page Page 1 [on] Page 2 Next Page