Discovery Education Video
Foundations of American Government
The Story Behind the Boston Massacre
1. What events helped trigger the Boston Massacre?
-What was it? Culmination of a series of violent confrontations between British authorities and colonial patriots that had been building for several years
-What triggered it? Taxes imposed by Britain sparked angry protest; colonists were protesting the presence of British troops in Boston; they wanted freedom from the British monarchy
Writing the Declaration of Independence
2. What year were the first battles of the American Revolution fought? 1775
3. What did Thomas Paine argue in his pamphlet, Common Sense?
Made the case for independence by attacking the idea that Britain’s king should be able to rule the American colonies; dispersed and read by many
Additional information to share with Abdullah: Paine's political pamphlet brought the rising revolutionary sentiment into sharp focus by placing blame for the suffering of the colonies directly on the reigning British monarch, George III. First and foremost, Common Sense advocated an immediate declaration of independence, postulating a special moral obligation of America to the rest of the world. Not long after publication, the spirit of Paine's argument found resonance in the American Declaration of Independence.
4. Who was chosen to write the Declaration of Independence? Thomas Jefferson
6. What was the Declaration of Independence called? The most enduring __protest__ document in the history of the free world.
7. Which Enlightenment philosopher’s ideas were borrowed to draft the Declaration of Independence? John Locke
8. When was the Declaration of Independence voted on (what date)? July 4, 1776
9. How could a weak Declaration of Independence have affected the outcome of the Revolutionary War? The arguments in the Declaration were familiar and understandable, making it a very powerful document of justification. Had it been weak, people wouldn’t have been able to understand it or wouldn’t have supported its adoption.
Composing the Constitution
10. Where did the Continental Congress meet? Philadelphia
11. What did the Articles of Confederation set up? Written in 1777, this document set up a national government to make laws and deal with foreign nations.
12. Why were the Articles of Confederation weak? But Congress made this central government weak because the members wanted the states to have more power than the central government. As a result the government could not enforce its laws, regulate trade between the states, or collect taxes. Over the years, the government grew weaker and unrest in the states grew stronger.
NOTE: Delegates were sent to Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation and make the government stronger. Although the purpose of the meeting was to revise the Articles of Confederation, some delegates argued that they needed to create an entirely new form of government.
13. Why did James Madison write a plan for a central government with three separate branches? This division was meant to ensure that no single branch of government would have too much power. This power-sharing system is called checks and balances.
14. Why did some delegates disapprove of Madison’s plan? One main obstacle was the number of representatives each state would have in Congress (argument = same number of representatives or representatives based on each state’s population???)
15. When was the Constitution signed? September 17, 1787
16. Why was a strong central government important in the formation of the United States? So the states don’t have too much power – central government needs to be able to enforce laws, regulate trade between the states, and collect taxes
Establishing the Bill of Rights
17. Why did some states refuse to ratify the Constitution? Because it didn’t protect the basic freedoms that people fought for during the American Revolution
18. What is the Bill of Rights and why was it created? The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, which would protect those freedoms
19. Write at least three individual freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
Freedom of speech, religion, press, jury trial, etc…
Your Opinion (Answers will vary)
20. How have important events in your life changed you?
21. What does independence mean to you?
22. What rules are good for you?
23. What freedom do you enjoy the most?