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CHRONICLE OF THE REVOLUTIONLIBERTY! THE SERIESPERSPECTIVES ON LIBERTYTHE ROAD TO REVOLUTION GAME
LIBERTY - THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

TEACHER'S GUIDE
THE RELUCTANT REVOLUTIONARIES
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
THE CONTINENTAL ARMY AND WASHINGTON
FACTORS THAT HANDICAPPED THE BRITISH
REVOLUTIONARY WAR MUSIC
CREATING A NEW NATION
TEACHER'S GUIDE
  Lesson 6: CREATING A NEW NATION
Examine the post-war tensions between Federalists and Anti-Federalists and how the evolution of their debate shaped the Constitution and government of the United States of America.

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Creating a New Nation

Overview:

At the end of the Revolutionary War, the new nation was faced with another extremely difficult taskcreating a single, unified country out of a loose association of states, transforming the "United States" from a plural to a singular noun. America had thrown off one oppressive form of government, but now they had to develop a new form of government strong enough to enforce the law, yet based on the democratic and economic premises of the Revolution.

The result was a Constitution that has lasted longer than other document of its kind in world history. This lesson will examine the tensions that existed between proponents of individual liberty and advocates of national strength and how the evolution of their debate shaped the Constitution and the new government.

Related resources for the Lesson

In this lesson, students will use the following resources:

1. Episode Six of Liberty! (The related web page for the episode is at http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/chronicle/episode6.html). Students should view the episode prior to completing this lesson.
2. The Articles of Confederation (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/artconf.htm)
3. The US Constitution (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/usconst.htm)
4. The Bill of Rights (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/rights1.htm - Click on Bill of Rights under defining documents.)
5. Related Questions PDF (for students)
6. Related Questions PDF (for teachers, with answers)

Relevant Standards

This lesson addresses the following national content standards established by the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) (http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/)

Civics:

  • Understands some of the major competing ideas about the purposes of politics and government (e.g., achieving a religious vision, glorifying the state, enhancing economic prosperity, providing for a nation's security) and knows examples of past and present governments that serve these purposes
  • Understands how constitutions, in the past as well as in the present, have been disregarded or used to promote the interests of a particular group, class, faction, or a government (e.g., slavery, exclusion of women from the body politic, prohibition of competing political parties)
  • Understands how constitutions may be used to preserve core values and principles of a political system or society (e.g., prohibition of religious tests for public office and protection of private property by the United States Constitution)
  • Knows the advantages and disadvantages of confederal, federal, and unitary systems in fulfilling the purposes of constitutional government
  • Understands how various provisions of the Constitution and principles of the constitutional system help to insure an effective government that will not exceed its limits

    US History:

  • Understands the efforts of the Continental Congress and the states to rebuild the economy after the American Revolution (e.g., by addressing issues of foreign and internal trade, banking and taxation)
  • Understands political and economic issues addressed by the Continental Congress (e.g., the accomplishments and failures of the Continental Congress, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, revolutionary war debt and the dispute over the sale of western lands)

    Strategy for the Lesson

    Prior to viewing Episode Six of Liberty!, the teacher should highlight the basic concerns and issues that faced the new nation after the war.

    Some of these issues might include:

  • Sovereignty of each individual state to conduct its own affairs without what it considered "undue influence" from a central government
  • Protections against an oppressive central government
  • Economic issues, such as taxation without representation, as well as maintaining a laissez-faire system which would protect business and industrial interests
  • The ability of the national government to protect business interests from foreign interference
  • The ability of the national government to protect itself and the nation from foreign military power as well as protecting itself from internal sedition.
  • The division of the new nation into two camps those who feared a strong, powerful central government and wanted to preserve individual liberties as well as the local sovereignty of each state and those who believed that the union would fall apart without a strong central government.

    Next, allow students to view Episode Six of Liberty! The teacher may wish to cue specific chapters in the film, including the following:

  • Chapter 3, A National Vision (14:14-19:04), which discusses the development of the Articles of Confederation as well as the debate over limited versus strong national government
  • Chapter 4, All Is Not Well (19:06-24:30), which discusses the failings of the Articles to serve as a suitable government for the new nation
  • Chapter 5, A Convention in Philadelphia (24:32-30:58), which discusses the Constitutional Convention as well as the varied interests and philosophies of the framers
  • Chapter 6, Blueprint for a New Nation (31:00-34:16), discusses the make-up of the Constitution itself
  • Chapter 7, Reactions Are Divided (34:18-40:54) deals with the controversy and resistance to the Constitution.
  • Chapter 8, Compromise and Approval (40:56-45:59) describes the compromises and debate that led to ratification of the Constitution as well as the development of the Bill of Rights.

    After viewing, distribute question sheets to students. Allot sufficient time for students to complete the worksheets. Once students have completed the questions, the teacher should evaluate them according to the depth of the answer desired, the amount of time allowed for the assignment as well as any other criteria established by the teacher, for example, spelling and grammar.

    Extension Activities:

    Have students work in groups to evaluate the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Ask them to assume they are a newly-appointed "Constitutional Convention." What provisions in the Constitution or amendments might they be likely to re-write or eliminate? Students should develop "position papers" to defend their choices.


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