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The Theory of the American Founding, Part Three: Why Equal Protection of the Law?


This lesson discusses the foundation for, and the importance of, the concept of the equal protection of the law. Discussion questions follow the reading.


Students will analyze historical evidence including primary sources to understand why law ought to offer all citizens equal protection.


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


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

Declaration of Independence, 1776

The United States Constitution of 1787.

Suggested Procedure:
  1. Write the word “equality” on the board and ask students what it means.
  2. Write the phrase “equal protection of the law” on the board and ask if there is relationship between “equality” and “equal protection.”
  3. Distribute copies of the reading, "The Theory of the American Founding, Part Three: Why Equal Protection of the Law?"
  4. 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.
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