• Unit Title
    Unit 1:  Foundations - Beginnings through Reconstruction


    Instructional Organization for the Topic

    Note to Teachers: 


    • Freedom Tracking Notebook:  Students will be using a Freedom Tracking Notebook (FTN) throughout the course.  It is advised that each student have a spiral notebook to serve as their FTN. During the course, this notebook will be used to reflect on freedom, its influence, and its changing meaning in American history by questions such as: How has the meaning of freedom changed? How has it remained the same? How has the idea of freedom influenced the actions of individuals and groups?  How has the idea of freedom affected Americans and American policy in the world?  While specific references to using the Freedom Tracking Notebook occur in the lessons throughout this course, teachers are encouraged to create additional or alternative opportunities for students to think and write about freedom.


    • Textbook: This course assumes that students will have an American History textbook, but does not recommend a particular one. The lessons identify specific topics for students to read and it is incumbent on the teacher to identify the location of this topic in their textbook. 


    • Readings: Many lessons reference student readings (including textbook topics). It is recommended that these readings be assigned prior to the lesson.



    Lesson 1:  What is History?


    Content Expectations: USHG F1.1; C2.2.4; C6.1.2; C6.1.3


    Key Concepts:  evidentiary-based argument, independence, oppression, primary and secondary sources


    Abstract:       This lesson introduces students to the scope and methodology of history as an academic discipline. It will help students appreciate the subtle and complex nature of human interactions and establishes the foundation for this course.


    In this lesson, students read, compare, and analyze primary source documents. They attempt to account for varying interpretations and establish criteria for what constitutes a valid argument or conclusion.  These efforts promote critical thinking and underscore the need for reliable data when assessing the meaning and importance of events.  It will become evident to students that unraveling the past is true detective work as they learn that witnesses perceive reality in markedly different ways.


    Begin the lesson by asking students for a working definition of history using a quick write strategy. Put a couple of their definitions on the board.  Have students read the handout “Strategies for Doing History,” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1). After discussing the different ways in which historians investigate a source using the handout as guide, play the video “View Why Historical Thinking Matters” for the class, located at http://historicalthinkingmatters.org/why/.   


    Next, refer students to a copy of the Declaration of Independence (one may be found in their text or located at http://www.ushistory.org/Declaration/document/index.htm). Using a Think-Aloud strategy, begin reading the document to the class. Employ the strategies for doing history that were described in the handout as you read through the document. Explain that they will use this guide sheet throughout the course to assist them in their interpretation and analysis of primary sources.  Next, distribute copies of the “Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1). Have students work in pairs to do a Think-Aloud with the document. It is recommended that the teacher splits the reading before beginning so that the pairs know where they should stop and start.  Place students in groups of four and have them discuss the strategies for doing history that they used when reading. Engage students in a class discussion that compares the ideas in the two documents. Some questions might include:

    • Who wrote the documents?
    • For what audience? 
    • What do you think the authors’ intentions were in writing each document? 
    • How are the documents similar? How are they different?
    • What evidence supports the claim that the authors of the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions modeled their declaration on the Declaration of Independence?  Be specific.
    • These documents were written over 70 years apart.   Why would that matter? What might that time difference tell you about the history of the United States?


    Make copies and distribute “Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address” and “Jefferson Davis’ Inaugural Address” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1).  Prior to this part of the lesson, have students read these documents. In class, have students work with a partner to source, contextualize, closely read, and corroborate the sources.  Debrief the documents with the class using the following questions:

    • What was happening there at that time these documents were created?
    • What else was happening in the country?
    • How are these documents similar?
    • How do these documents differ?
    • What can you learn from these documents?


    For an optional homework assignment, have students investigate a news report from two different sources and explain how they determined the “truth” of the story.



    Lesson 2:  What is Freedom?


    Content Expectations: USHG F1.1; USHG F1.2; C2.1.1; C2.1.3; C2.2.1; C2.2.4


    Key Concepts:  civil liberties, equality, freedom, inalienable rights, independence, popular sovereignty.


    Abstract:  In this lesson students explore freedom as both a philosophical and political ideal.  Throughout the course, students will learn about the historical evolution of the concept and the political turmoil which has accompanied attempts at implementing new interpretations of freedom.


    Begin the lesson by asking students to formulate their own definition of freedom in their Freedom Tracking Notebook.  Put a couple of the definitions on the board.  Then explain to them that since antiquity humanity has struggled to define freedom, implement it, and maintain what was considered at the time a reasonable balance between liberty and responsibility. In short, there are fundamental disagreements over what constitutes freedom.  Have students read a copy of the Declaration of Independence located in students’ textbook or at http://www.usconstitution.net/declar.html. Also provide students with a copy of the “Written Document Analysis Worksheet,” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) or at http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/document.html. Have students work with a partner to complete the analysis sheet and then review it with the class, focusing on question #6.  Then have the class determine the most important issues contained within the document and compare them to “freedom” as defined on the board.  As a class construct a definition of freedom on the board. Have students return to their Freedom Tracking Notebooks, record the class definition of freedom, and write their reactions to the definition.   Post the following questions on the board or overhead transparency to use in a class discussion about freedom:

    • Are freedom and civic order inherently in conflict?
    • What constraints on freedom, if any, are necessary?
    • What contemporary issue or problem poses the greatest threat to freedom?
    • How does the Declaration of Independence reflect the Founders’ sense of freedom in 1776?
    • How does that differ from today?


    Explain to students that humans have always struggled with the idea of freedom. At different points in history, freedom has been defined by different societies in different ways. Provide some examples to students such as Genesis’ constraints on the options of Adam and Eve, Plato’s Republic and its attempts to define justice, medieval theologians’ attempts to balance free will and the nature of God.  After students have read the handout “Natural Rights Philosophy” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1), discuss how philosopher John Locke explored the reasons why people form governments. In doing so, discuss the idea of freedom and how absolute freedom can lead to a breakdown in social order. Have students work with a partner to reexamine the Declaration of Independence, this time for evidence of influence from the ideas of Locke. Then, discuss students’ findings with the class. Conclude the lesson by explaining that throughout the course, students will be continually asked to reflect on the idea of freedom and how its meaning has changed over time.

    Lesson 3:  The Initial Challenge of Independence


    Content Expectations:  USHG F1.2;  C2.1.1; C2.1.4; C6.1.2


    Key Concepts: independence, primary and secondary sources


    Abstract:  In this lesson students examine the challenges facing the Founders and note how the first attempt at a national government under the Articles of Confederation was largely a reaction to the perceived tyranny of the British King and Parliament. They also learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the fledgling government, its successes and failures. 


    Prior to this lesson, have students read about the Articles of Confederation using either their textbook or the article at http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_arti.html.  Begin the lesson by reviewing the issues surrounding the outbreak and course of the Revolution. Refer students to a timeline of events leading to the war if necessary (see http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/chronicle_timeline.html or http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_decl.html).  Ask students to make a short list of what exactly it is that governments are supposed to do.  Take samples from the class and put them on the board.  Then ask them how leaders accomplish these tasks.  What powers does the government need to implement programs or policy?  What are the consequences of failure? 


    Explain to the class that before the colonists declared independence, the Continental Congress recommended to the colonies that they establish new governments independent of the British Empire.  Ask students, “Why might it have been important for colonies to form independent governments?”  Be sure students recognize that without state governments in place, there would be no government in the colonies once the colonists declared independence. In order to prevent anarchy, most states moved to adopt state constitutions, establishing republican governments.


    Thus, as Americans were fighting for independence on the battlefield, they also were struggling to create new institutions of governments to replace the British system.  The first state governments were based on written constitutions, created strong legislatures, and forbade executive officers including the governor from holding a seat in the legislature. By the late 1770s, instability of these new state governments resulted in most states revising their state constitution.  This time, Americans changed the process of constitution writing itself. Instead of being written by state legislatures, Americans created the constitutional convention – a special assembly of people that would meet for the sole purpose of writing the constitution and would never meet again.  This process helped enshrine constitutions as “higher law,” something that could not easily be undone or changed by subsequent legislatures.  These new constitutions also strengthened the power of the executive (governor) in reaction to the instability of the original state governments. Americans then formed a confederation under the Articles of Confederation, which formalized the decentralized system already operating during the war.


    At this point, discuss Shay’s Rebellion or have students read about it in their text (see also http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h363.html).  What did that eruption illustrate?  After the discussion, have the class examine a copy of the Northwest Ordinance located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1).   It is recommended that students consider only the “Articles” section of the document.  Discuss with students what, if anything, in the document might be of profound importance for later US history. Why? 


    Conclude the lesson by discussing the successes and failures of government under the Articles of Confederation. Be certain students understand the following:

    ·        The Articles of Confederation were the first attempt at creating a national government for the new nation.

    ·        The Articles of Confederation established a confederate system of government with the states having more power than the central government

    ·        The Articles of Confederation are considered by some historians as an overreaction to the tyranny of the British government.

    ·        Under the Articles, the government adopted the Northwest Ordinance, which established a procedure for admitting new states to the Union on an equal footing with the other states. The Northwest Ordinance also restricted the spread of slavery.

    ·        Shays’ rebellion reflected the weakness of the central government under the Articles of Confederation.



    Lesson 4:  The Constitution


    Content Expectations: USHG F.1.1; USHG F1.2; C2.1.1; C2.1.2; C2.1.3; C2.1.4; C2.2.1; C3.1.1; C3.1.2; C3.1.3


    Key Concepts:  equality, federalism, freedom, judicial review, popular sovereignty, republican government


    Abstract:   In this lesson, students examine the issues confronting the Founders as they attempted to create a new government.  Questions about popular sovereignty, freedom, representation, states’ rights, slavery, and fear of tyranny divided the young nation. Using the previous lesson, remind students of the key points in the Articles of Confederation. Students need to be aware of the fact that each state in the new nation viewed itself as fully independent and was not necessarily willing to relinquish their individual control to a collective power. Review with students the role that state constitution writing played in creating the idea of a constitutional convention. Remind students that there were regional, religious, economic, and other social issues that concerned Americans. The Founders recognized that the Articles of Confederation left the nation weak and in danger of collapse.


    Prior to this lesson have students read about the Constitutional Convention in their text or the articles at http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/milestones/convention_about.html and http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/classroom/index3.html.   Using a lecture/discussion format, review with the class the problems confronting the Founders such as Shay’s Rebellion, economic deprivation, sectional differences, etc.  Point out that the Convention was conducted behind closed doors and was “extra legal” if not illegal.  Ask students to “STOP and JOT” in response.  Next, discuss with the class the role that compromise played during the Convention with particular attention to the 3/5th Compromise and the Great Compromise.  Have students work in small groups to design a poster that illustrates the obstacles confronted by the Founders and the resolutions that addressed them.  Half of the class should work on posters for the Great Compromise while the other half depicts the 3/5th Compromise.  Have students compare the posters and discuss the compromises.


    Provide students with a copy of the U.S. Constitution or refer them to the document in their textbook. After reviewing the Preamble to the Constitution out loud with the class, divide the class into three groups and distribute copies of the graphic organizer, “The Constitution,” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to each student.  Have each group investigate one branch of government as described in the Constitution.  Students should be able to explain the powers given to the branch they investigated. After students have worked independently, have students form groups of three, with each student representing one of the three branches. Students should share the results of their investigation so that each group has a student explaining the powers delegated to each branch of government. With the whole class, discuss the basic structure and functions of the new government, including separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism. Have students add to their graphic organizer and correct any misinformation.  Be sure to introduce students to the concept of judicial review, which is not specifically listed in the Constitution. 


    Conclude the lesson by having students write responsively in their Freedom Tracking Notebook to the following question:  If you were a Founding Father, what position would you have taken on an issue (e.g., 3/5th Compromise, Great Compromise, powers given to the three branches, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism) facing the Founders? How would this position fit with the core idea of freedom that existed in 1790?  Students should identify the issue and perspective they are adopting before they respond to the question (large state, small state, southern state, etc.).

    Lesson 5:  Ratifying the Constitution


    Content Expectations:  USHG F1.1; USHG F1.2; C2.1.1; C2.1.2; C2.1.3; C3.2.4; C6.1.2


    Key Concepts: amendment, civil liberties, federalism, popular sovereignty, primary and secondary sources, republican government


    Abstract:  In this lesson students survey the struggle over ratification of the Constitution.  They examine attempts at persuasion by Federalists and Anti-Federalists and evaluate their effectiveness. 


    Prior to this lesson students should read about the ratification of the Constitution in their textbook or the article at http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/constitution-day/ratification.html. Along with the reading, have students construct a T-Chart listing the concerns and arguments of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists as identified in their text.  A blank T-Chart can be found in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1).


    Explain to students that once the Founders had crafted a Constitution, they needed to convince the American people that it was worthy of adoption.  This necessitated a marketing campaign in order to attain ratification. Have students discuss the art of persuasion.  How do we convince one another of what is true and what is the best course of action?  Are there techniques which are misleading and/or dangerous?  What are they? 


    Divide class in half and have one side represent the position of the Federalists and the other side represent the position of the Anti-Federalists. Distribute copies of “Ratification Questions” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to students. Assign students readings from their perspective using the website: Constitutional Topic: The Federalists and Anti-Federalists. United States Constitution Online. 5 Sept. 2008 <http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_faf.html>.  Note that arguments of the Federalists (#10 and 51), as well as summaries of the arguments of a couple Anti-Federalists have been reprinted in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1).  Teachers may want students to read their respective arguments from these documents.   Another alternative is to have the groups read Lessons 13 and 14 in the We the People materials (see Teacher Resource section of unit plan). Have students use the materials to answer the “Ratification Questions” that pertain to their side. Encourage students to anticipate the positions and arguments of their opponents. Then, engage students in a class discussion using the following questions: 

    ·        What arguments did the Federalists make in support of the idea that the Constitution did not give government too much power?

    ·        Why did the Anti-Federalists believe a bill of rights was needed?

    ·        Which criticisms by the Anti-Federalists were most convincing?  Least convincing? Why do you think so?

    ·        What were the most convincing arguments the Federalists put forth in support of the Constitution? Least convincing? Why do you think so?

    ·        What fears did the Anti-Federalists have that people express today?

    ·        How do the Federalists arguments in support of governmental power reflect issues facing Americans today?


    Throughout the discussion, encourage students to support their position with evidence from the readings.  Debrief the discussion by reminding students that the Bill of Rights was put in place soon after the Constitution was ratified because the Founding Fathers thought that these rights were essential in order to prevent a “tyranny of the majority”.  Conclude the lesson by having students write a reflection in their Freedom Tracking Notebook answering the question: How might the Bill of Rights protect your freedoms and how might it be used to limit your freedoms?



    Lesson 6:  Growing Nationalism, Manifest Destiny, and Foreign Policy


    Content Expectations: USHG F2.1; C6.1.3


    Key Concepts:  evidentiary-based argument, foreign relations, nationalism


    Abstract:  This lesson introduces students to the concept of nationalism.  They review the expansion of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the conquest of American Indian lands.  The class also examines the changing nature of United States foreign policy from the Louisiana Purchase to the onset of the Civil War by reviewing events, ideas, and policies, such as the War of 1812, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, and the Mexican War. They use these events as evidence to support an argument on the changing character of American foreign policy.


    Begin the lesson by explaining to students that from its creation until the Civil War in 1861, the United States expanded across much of North America. To review this expansion and the events associated with it, show students the brief online video located at http://www.animatedatlas.com/movie2.html. Next, explain to students that in this lesson they will be exploring how America’s foundational values and principles influenced US foreign policy prior to 1877.  Introduce students to the idea of nationalism. Explain that nationalism has been seen as a commitment to a nation, to the people within that nation, and to its leaders, often without criticism. A nation has historically been defined as a group of people living in a defined region, speaking the same language, having common historical and cultural traditions, and usually practicing the same religion.  Explain to students that after reviewing several international events in American history, they are going to consider the role of nationalism in foreign affairs.


    Distribute copies of the chart “United States Foreign Policy Prior to the Civil War” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to students.  Use the “United States Foreign Policy Prior to the Civil War Reference Guide,” also located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1), to guide a lecture on the events listed on the guide. As you lecture, students should complete their charts.  Although not listed on the reference guide as a separate event, discuss Manifest Destiny as both a so-called “philosophical” concept and a device intended to motivate or persuade the American people. 


    After the lecture, have students read “John L. O'Sullivan on Manifest Destiny, 1839”excerpted from The Great Nation of Futurity and examine the painting by John Gast, located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1).  Have students refer to the “Strategies for Doing History” sheet from Lesson 1 to assist them in examining the sources. Then, divide students into groups of four and have them discuss the questions for the sourcing and contextualizing, such as:

    §         Sourcing:  Who wrote it? When? Why did they write/paint it?

    §         Contextualizing:  Where was it written or created?  What was happening there at the time? What was happening in the country at the time?

    §         Close Reading for Content:  What is the document/source saying?


    Alternatively, students could use the “Written Document Analysis Sheet” from Lesson 1 and the “Photo Analysis Sheet” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to guide students in examining the sources.


    Next, have two groups join together to form larger groups of eight students each and have them discuss the following questions:

    1. What role did Manifest Destiny and a growing sense of nationalism play in these events?
    2. How did America’s foundational values and principles influence United States’ foreign policy prior to the Civil War?
    3. Can a distinction be made between nationalism and patriotism? How are they alike? How are they different?


    As a class, discuss how one could use the information learned in this lesson to construct an argument on the changing character of American foreign policy.  Using the thesis statement below, discuss how students could use evidence from this lesson to support the thesis. 


    Thesis Statement:  “The belief in the idea of Manifest Destiny was the single most significant factor underlying U.S. foreign policy decisions”.


    Encourage students to identify and use evidence from the lesson to support the thesis.

    Lesson 7:  Growing Pains - Sectionalism and the Influence of Reform Movements


    Content Expectations:  USHG F2.1; C2.1.4; C2.2.4 


    Key Concepts:  civil liberties, equality, freedom, inalienable rights, oppression, sectionalism


    Abstract:   This lesson examines the increasing sectional issues which beset the new nation. It also looks at various reform movements, some of which were directly connected to those tensions.


    Prior to this lesson, have students read about the growing sectionalism in their textbook or using the article at http://countrystudies.us/united-states/history-58.htm.   Begin the lesson by constructing a class list about the differences between the North and South prior to the Civil War. Be sure to explain to students that the slave system required a cash crop which employed concentrated labor to materially enrich the planter aristocracy.  For example, no slave system evolved in what is now Canada because its economic mainstay was the fur trade.  No cash crop necessitating concentrated labor developed there.  Remind students that slavery was a major source of contention at the Constitutional Convention but at that time appeared to be dying.  On some level, students must confront the horrors of the slave system in order to understand the persistence and fervor of the more notable abolitionists, as well as the profound human suffering engendered by the “peculiar institution.”  Students should also recognize the differences in culture, geography, and economics between north and south.


    Divide students into eight small groups and assign each group one of the following issues or events:

    • Missouri Compromise
    • The Liberator
    • Nullification Crisis
    • Fredrick Douglass
    • Wilmot Proviso
    • Compromise of 1850
    • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • Kansas-Nebraska Act


    Distribute to each student the “Growing Sectionalism Research Guide” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to help guide their research. Have students use their textbook to find information about their assigned topic. If time permits, students might want to use the Internet as an additional source. Have students research their topic for 15-20 minutes and then allow them a few minutes to compare their findings in their groups.  Distribute copies of the “Growing Sectionalism” chart located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to the class. Then, have each group present its findings to the class while students record the information on the chart.  Note that a reference guide has been provided in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1).

    Next, explain to students that during the first half of the 19th Century, many people struggled with the disparities between their ideals and the realities they faced in American society.  As a result, several reform movements developed. Discuss the influence of the abolitionist movement on American society and its influence on the growing sectional crisis. Be sure students understand that the issue of slavery had faced the nation since its inception. Early opposition to slavery found expression in the concept of colonization (resettlement of American Americans in Africa or the Caribbean). After those attempts failed and the cotton boom in the south (augmented by the invention of the cotton gin) increased the commitment of planters to the “peculiar” labor system, William Lloyd Garrison began publishing The Liberator and demanding the immediate and unconditional end of slavery. Explain to students that as the cause for abolition grew stronger, anti-abolition forces viewed it with both fear and contempt as it threatened the existing social system in the south and was seen as a threat to stability and order. The debate over slavery would continue to intensify as more territory was added to the United States. Tell students this will be explored in more detail in the next lesson.


    Next, refer students to the Declaration of Independence.  Have them identify fundamental values and ideas from the Declaration that might have inspired abolitionists and supported their cause. Discuss what other factors might have motivated abolitionists (religion).  Using the “Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” from Lesson 1 (and found in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1)), have students work with a partner to highlight ideas such as liberty, justice, and equality found in the document. As students compare it with the Declaration of Independence, engage them in a discussion about the women’s movement using the following questions:

    ·         How are the ideas in these documents similar?  Different?

    ·         What is the relationship between the women’s rights movement and abolitionism?

    ·         In what ways were both women and slaves oppressed?

    ·         How did both movements use the ideas of freedom and/or equality to support their cause?

    ·         How do the women’s rights movement and abolitionism reflect changing ideas of freedom and equality in American society?

    Finally, have students write a reflection in their Freedom Tracking Notebook answering the question:  How did the ideals of freedom and equality influence and affect American society and the growing sectional crisis?


    For more depth about the abolitionist movement and women’s movement, see the following resources:



    Lesson 8:  The Civil War and the Changing Character of American Politics


    Content Expectations:  USHG F1.1; USHG F1.2; C2.1.4; C3.2.5


    Key Concepts: amendments, civil liberties, equality, freedom, inalienable rights, oppression, popular sovereignty, primary and secondary sources, republican government, sectionalism


    Abstract:   In this lesson students examine the origins and consequences of the Civil War.  They consider whether or not the conflict was “irrepressible”.  They also confront the horror of the slave system and explore the growing tensions between North and South over the “peculiar institution”.  The class assesses the cost, consequences, and differing perspectives on this “war between brothers.” 


    Begin the lesson by surveying the major events which preceded the outbreak of Civil War in the United States.  To do this, distribute the handout “Causes of the Civil War” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to students.  After the students review the chart, ask students at which point, if any, war became inevitable.  Encourage students to consider events from the previous lesson as well.  This is an essential question as it compels the class to consider the scope and limits of human capacity. Have students discuss what role slavery played in producing tensions that led to war.  Encourage them to consider the political, economic, and cultural aspects of the “peculiar institution.”


    Next, explain to students the significance the Emancipation Proclamation or have students read about it in their textbooks. Discuss the Emancipation with the class using the following questions:

    • Why did Lincoln wait until 1863 to implement the Emancipation Proclamation?
    • Why weren’t all the slaves freed at once? Be sure to discuss the situation in the Border States.
    • What impact did it have on the war?


    Give students a copy of the “Gettysburg Address” and the “Reconstruction Amendments” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit1). Have them work with a partner to identify the core ideals of American society as reflected in these documents. Instruct students to make notes in the margins of the handouts as they read and discuss them. Alternatively, have students use the “About/Point Chart” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to facilitate student understanding. Next, place students in groups of six to discuss changes in ideas of freedom and equality represented by the documents.  At the conclusion of this lesson, post the following on the board:


    “Abraham Lincoln publicly stated that he would do anything to preserve the Union and if that meant freeing the slaves, he would do so, but if it meant perpetuating slavery, he would do that as well.  Explain why the leader of the nation would be willing to leave an entire group of people in bondage. How does this square with the fundamental ideals of freedom and equality?”   


    Have students record the statement in their Freedom Tracking Notebook and write a reflection in response to it. 



    Lesson 9:  Changes in America - Social, Demographic, and Economic 


    Content Expectations:  USHG F2.1; C6.1.5


    Key Concepts:  evidentiary-based argument, primary and secondary sources


    Abstract:  This lesson surveys a variety of changes in the United States resulting from a combination of technological innovation, immigration, and the impact of the Civil War.  Students examine reactions to these alterations in the fabric of American society.  They also pursue an in depth study of what constitutes and how to construct an evidentiary-based argument on an historical theme.


    Begin the lesson by distributing the “Data Sets” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to groups of three or four students. Note that additional data can be accessed at Images of American Political History. Dr William J. Ball. 8 Dec. 2008 <http://teachpol.tcnj.edu/amer_pol_hist/_browse_maps.htm>.  Have students examine the sources and construct at least three statements of fact or generalizations about the United States from the data.  As the groups share their statements with the entire class, record them on chart paper and post it in the room.  Next, explain to students that they are going to learn how to construct an evidentiary-based argument on the most significant changes in American History to 1877. Using students’ statements of facts those listed on “Changes in America” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1), explain the difference between a fact statement and a thesis statement.


    In explaining how to construct an argument, it might be useful to have students think about how a lawyer frames an issue to shape his or her argument in a case. Framing an issue is essential in establishing manageable parameters in constructing an argument.  It helps students distinguish between relevant and irrelevant data. Using the example at the bottom of “Changes in America”, discuss how the thesis statement purports to establish a causal relationship between Manifest Destiny, national pride, and geographic expansion. Have students select another change from the list or from their own statements and work with a partner to establish a viable thesis statement.  


    After students share their responses with the class, discuss how one might use evidence to support the thesis. Use some examples from the class to probe students’ thinking. For instance, ask them what information would prove their point.  Be sure to discuss how primary and secondary sources both play a role in compiling evidence to support a thesis.  Also make sure that students recognize that they need to explain how the evidence supports the thesis (reasoning).  The link between the evidence and thesis is often the most difficult for students.  Use a few examples from the class to point out the reasoning necessary to connect the evidence to the thesis. 


    Next, have students construct an argument of their own using evidence from the unit. Allow students to research additional information for their arguments beyond the “Data Sets”.  Distribute and explain the “Essay Guide” located in the Supplemental Materials (Unit 1) to facilitate students in organizing their arguments.  After students have read the “Essay Guide,” have them write their arguments, engage in peer editing, and revise their essays. To conclude the lesson, engage students in a class discussion of the most significant changes in America prior to 1877. Be sure to encourage students to support their positions with reasons supported by evidence.  



Last Modified on February 14, 2018