Sunday, March 28, 2004

Teaching America's Founding Documents.

Teaching America's Founding Documents. This essay presents idea for how to teach about documents like to US Constitition and the Declarartion of Independence.

From the site:

Great ideas about law, government, and the rights of individuals marked the founding of the United States of America during the last quarter of the 18th century. These ideas, embedded in America's founding documents, are the connective cords by which national unity and civic identity have been maintained in the United States from the 1770s until today. To be an American is to understand and to have a reasonable commitment to the ideas in America's founding documents. This Digest (1) identifies four founding documents and the great ideas in them; (2) discusses inclusion of the founding documents and great ideas in the core curriculum of schools, and (3) provides an annotated list of World Wide Web sites for teachers and learners on the founding documents and the great ideas in these primary sources.


Four key documents of the founding era in United States history are: (1) the Declaration of Independence (1776), (2) the Constitution of the United States (1787), (3) the Federalist Papers (1787-88), and (4) the Bill of Rights (1791).

The Declaration of Independence, approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, proclaimed and justified the separation of 13 American colonies from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the establishment of a new nation, the United States of America. This founding document includes the criteria by which to determine whether or not a government is good and thereby worthy of support by people living under its authority. The first criterion is that governments are created by the people for the primary purpose of guaranteeing or protecting their God-given rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The second criterion is that a government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, the people. A good government satisfies these two criteria or at least recognizes and addresses them, even if it does so imperfectly. A bad government either willfully disregards these two criteria or addresses them ineptly. If a bad government is impervious to improvement in terms of the two criteria, then the people have a right to revolution to change it, which is what Americans did through their War of Independence, 1775-1783.

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