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Foundational American Documents

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1 Foundational American Documents
Artifact Kit Overview (Start Here) The Declaration of Independence The U.S. Constitution George Washington’s Farewell Address

2 (Click on one of the tabs Below)
Artifact Kit Overview The Declaration of Independence (1776), the United States Constitution (1787), and George Washington’s Farewell Address (1796) serve as the triune statement on the principles on which America was founded. In this American trinity, the Declaration of Independence shows the soul of America with its principled stand for equality and natural rights given to mankind by its Creator. The Constitution is supreme law of the land that outlines how America will live by the principles of equality so eloquently outlined in the Declaration. Washington’s Farewell Address serves as the American conscience, warning against the potential problems that could (and have) plagued the country, even given the firm foundation established by the Declaration and Constitution. As you explore these artifacts, be sure to follow all the links provided! Explore More (Click on one of the tabs Below) Declaration of Independence United States Constitution Washington’s Farewell Address

3 The Declaration of Independence
The soul of the America is found in the enduring political principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. These principles include equality and rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. The declaration claims these principles and rights are inalienable – meaning that a person has these rights simply because they are human beings and cannot be taken away by one’s government. Equality means that nature ordains no one to be the ruler of any other person. Each human being is also equal in his natural rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Equality, liberty, and natural rights require that legitimate government be republican. The truth that all human beings are born free, equal, and independent means that a just government must be based on the consent of the governed—a consent which must be expressed through ongoing elections. The political theory of the Declaration of Independence requires that government secure the natural rights of the citizens through adopting and enforcing criminal laws; adopting and enforcing civil laws regarding property, family, education, and provision for the poor; and providing for national defense. Further, if the government fails to run in accordance with these principles, the people have a right and duty to alter or abolish the government and establish a new government which will secure rights through the consent of the governed. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” History Channel Video Video 1: The Declaration An Introduction (Click on the Photo) YouTube Video Video 2: The Declaration An Introduction (Click on the Photo) Return Next

4 The Declaration of Independence - A Chronology
1776 June 7: Resolution made urging the Continental Congress to declare independence. June 12-27: Jefferson, drafts a declaration, of which only a fragment exists. June 28: A fair copy of the committee draft of the Declaration of Independence is read in Congress. July 1-4: Congress debates and revises the Declaration of Independence. July 2: Congress declares independence as the British fleet and army arrive at New York. July 4: Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence. John Dunlap prints the Declaration of Independence, called the "Dunlap Broadsides." Twenty-four copies are known to exist, two of which are in the Library of Congress. One of these was Washington's personal copy. July 5: John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, dispatches the first of Dunlap's broadsides of the Declaration of Independence to the legislatures of New Jersey and Delaware. July 6 - Pennsylvania Evening Post prints the first newspaper rendition of the Declaration of Independence. July 8 - The first public reading of the Declaration is in Philadelphia. July 9 - Washington orders that the Declaration of Independence be read before the American army in New York. 1777 Jan 18 - Congress, now sitting in Baltimore, Maryland, orders that signed copies of the Declaration of Independence printed by Mary Katherine Goddard of Baltimore be sent to the states. Return Next

5 The Declaration of Independence
In anticipation of a vote for independence, the Continental Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence in June of 1776 in Philadelphia behind a veil of congressionally imposed secrecy. At the committee’s request, Thomas Jefferson drafted the declaration. Revised first by committee members and then by the Congress, Jefferson’s “original Rough draught” was the foundation of the Declaration of Independence adopted by Congress on the morning of July 4, 1776. Student Exercise: Given the attached document, using a highlighter, identify the differences between Jefferson’s “original rough draft” and the final version of the Declaration of Independence. Afterward, answer the following questions: Ignoring grammatical errors on Jefferson’s Draft, name four differences you noticed between the two versions. Which two differences were most significant? Why do you think these changes were made by the members of the Continental Congress? Since the Revolutionary War had already started when the Declaration was written, why did Congress think it needed to be written? (Why was it important to have a Declaration?) YouTube Video Video 3: Jefferson Writes the Declaration (Click on the Photo) Student Worksheet Comparison Worksheet Return Next

6 The Declaration of Independence
(Full Text) National Archives Website Declaration of Independence (Audio Version) YouTube Video Preserving the Declaration National Archives Student Instructions: Read and Listen to the Declaration of Independence. Turn in your Declaration Comparison Worksheet with study questions. Write an essay on the Declaration, one paragraph on each of the following topics. When complete, turn it in for a grade. Return

7 The United States Constitution
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” -The Preamble The Constitution of the United States has endured for over two centuries. Part of the reason for the Constitution's enduring strength is that it is the complement of the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution outlines the structure of government and the rules for its operation, consistent with the creed of human liberty proclaimed in the Declaration. By the division of power--horizontally among the three separate branches of the federal government, and vertically in the allocation of power between the central government and the states--the Constitution's Framers devised a structure of government strong enough to ensure the nation's future strength and prosperity but without sufficient power to threaten the liberty of the people. Several important themes run through the Constitution. They include: 1. Like the Declaration, it offers a recognition that the ultimate authority of a legitimate government depends on the consent of a free people. 2. A concept of checks and balances between the three branches of government. 3. The concept of federalism where power is shared by national and state governments. 4. A recognition that the Constitution needs to be a “living document” that has the ability to meet the continuing and changing needs of the people in pursuit of their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The Constitution is our most fundamental law. It is, in its own words, "the supreme Law of the Land. The original document of 1787 plus its amendments--is and must be understood to be the standard against which all laws, policies, and interpretations should be measured. It is our fundamental law because it represents the will of the people Full text of overview available at: YouTube Video Video 1: The Constitution An Introduction (Click on the Photo) YouTube Video Video 2: The Constitution, the Articles, and Federalism (Click on the Photo) Return Next

8 The U.S. Constitution - A Chronology
1776 – The Declaration of Independence written; the 13 colonies become the 13 states, but are not yet united under one central government. 1781 – The last battle of the Revolutionary War takes place; the 13 states set up a federal government under laws called the Articles of Confederation. 1786 – Representatives from five states meet at Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss interstate trade (not governed by the Articles of Confederation). Because so few states attend, another convention is called for. 1787 – In May, 55 men from twelve states met in Philadelphia as the Constitutional Convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. At the outset, however, Virginia Governor Edmund Randolph presented a plan prepared by James Madison for the design of an entirely new national government. The proposed plan would lead to a four-month process of argument, debate, compromise, and the development of the Constitution of the United States. - September 17, the final draft of the new Constitution was read to the 42 delegates still at the convention. Of the 42 men present, 39 affixed their signatures to the document and notified the Confederation Congress that their work was finished. The Congress, in turn, submitted the document to the states for ratification, where more argument, debate, and compromise would take place. The state of Delaware was the first to ratify the Constitution. 1788 – On June 21, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, and the Constitution went into effect. Return Next

9 The United States Constitution
In the two centuries since its ratification, many changes (amendments) have been made to the Constitution. However, the basic premises on which the Constitution was framed--the protection of individual rights and liberties, limited government with separation of powers and checks and balances, the federal system, and judicial review--remain at the heart of the "living" document. Student Exercise: Follow the link to the Education Portal Video on the Constitution After watching the video, conduct your 0wn review of the original Constitution (without Bill of Rights) using the provided worksheet. After completing the worksheet, answer the following questions, compare your summary to the PowerPoint presentations and be able to define the following terms: Federalism 5. Supremacy Clause Civil Liberties 6. Concurrent Powers Impeachment 7. Separation of Powers Reserved Rights 8. Checks & Balances Education Portal Video Video 3: The Constitution, Preamble, Articles, and Amendments (Click on the Photo) Student Worksheet Constitution Review Worksheet Constitution Overview PowerPoint Return Next

10 The United States Constitution
The Original U.S. Constitution (Full Text) National Archives Website National Archives Tour of the National Archives Vault Student Instructions: View the original draft of the Constitution provided above. Take the virtual tour of the National Archives Vault (linked above). Turn in your Constitution Review worksheet with study questions. Return Next

11 Washington’s Farewell Address
George Washington offered his Farewell Address as an open letter of advice and warning to the American people about their long-term safety and happiness. For a great leader to voluntarily relinquish political power and retire from public life was itself unprecedented in the annals of history—an act that contributed to the establishment of republican government in America. In his address, Washington warned of the dangers facing the young republic, chiefly from internal faction and foreign dangers. But he also hailed the greatness that could come from a unity founded on necessity and prosperity, and further graced by the character of its citizens. The address was published in Philadelphia’s largest newspaper on September 19, 1796—just nine years after the signing of the Constitution. YouTube Video The main points of Washington’s Address include: 1. The Preservation of the Union. 2. The Danger of Factions. 3. Importance of Religion and Morality 4. America’s Role in the World. Video 1: Farewell Address for Dummies (Click on the Photo) Return Next

12 Washington’s Farewell Address
The main points of Washington’s Address include: 1. The Preservation of the Union. 2. The Danger of Factions. 3. Importance of Religion and Morality 4. America’s Role in the World. Washington’s address was written in language which is sometimes difficult for us to understand today. Read both the documents below will help you better understand Washington’s Address. The first offers a good summary of the Address, where the other is one author’s idea of how Washington would talk today, if giving his address informally. Summary of Washington’s Address Washington’s Address in Every Day Language Return Next

13 Washington’s Farewell Address
Do the following exercises. Student Exercise: Having read the summaries of Washington’s address on the previous slide, watch the YouTube video and afterward, answer the following questions: What warnings did Washington give to nation in his address? Which of these warning is most relevant to us today? Why? YouTube Video Video 2: Farewell Address Webinar Washington’s Address (Full Text) Return Next

14 Washington’s Farewell Address
George Washington’s Farewell Address (In his own hand) National Archives Website YouTube Audio YouTube Video Washington’s Address, professionally read Read on the Senate Floor Nearly every year since 1893, the Senate has observed Washington 's birthday by selecting one of its members to read the address during legislative session Student Instructions: View the original draft of the Washington’s Address, shown in his own hand writing. Listen to his address on one of the YouTube links provided. Hand in your answers from the Student Exercise page. Return

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