Henry Clay High School Advanced Placement (AP) Academy U. S. Government & Politics Required Summer Reading Assignment



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Henry Clay High School

Advanced Placement (AP) Academy U.S. Government & Politics

Required Summer Reading Assignment

Learning Outcome: Determine whether the Constitution of the United States is a positive force for democratic governments (as the Declaration of Independence and Federalist No. 10 & 51 argue) or if it contains challenging undemocratic elements (as “It Is Time to Repair the Constitution’s Flaws” contends), and explain why.

Directions: Access the following articles online (Jefferson, 1776; Levinson, 2006; Madison, 1787/1788) and provide typewritten answers to the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. This assignment is due on the first day of the fall semester class and will be worth 100 points.

Jefferson, T. (1776). Declaration of independence. The Charters of Freedom. Washington, DC: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html



  1. What are the three inalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence?

  2. Summarize the main arguments for independence as outlined in the document.

  3. According to the Declaration of Independence, from where do governments obtain their power?

  4. Read the declaration of “natural rights” in the Declaration of Independence (second, third, and fourth paragraphs). Selected what you think is the single most important idea and explain how that idea effects your life today.

Levinson, S. (2006, October 13). It is time to repair the constitution’s flaws. The Chronicle of Higher Education 53(8), B10. Retrieved from http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2006/100906_che.html

  1. In what structural ways is the United States Congress unrepresentative of the population?

  2. According to Sanford Levinson (2006), why should the Electoral College be abolished?

  3. In what ways are the Constitution’s current provisions for replacement of members of Congress a potential problem in the face of a catastrophic attack?

  4. Why is Article V of the Constitution of the United States problematic?

  5. What does Levinson suggest as a potential remedy to the important flaws in the Constitution?

Madison, J. (1787). Federalist, No. 10. In J.E. Cooke (Ed.). (1961). The Founders' Constitution: Vol. 1, Ch. 4, Doc. 19. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch4s19.html

  1. According to James Madison in Federalist, No. 10 (1787), can the causes of factions be eliminated? Can its effects be controlled?

  2. According to Madison, what are the two key differences between a democracy and a republic?

  3. What are the advantages of a republican form of government? Does Madison advocate a democratic or a republican government? Why?

  4. “Extend the sphere and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests.” So begins several sentences that present one the most critical claims in Federalist, No. 10. Do you find the claim persuasive? Explain?

  5. List three groups which you consider to be factions today. Explain why each one would fit Madison’s definition.

Madison, J. (1788). Federalist, No. 51. In J.E. Cooke (Ed.). (1961). The Founders' Constitution: Vol. 1, Ch. 10, Doc. 16. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch10s16.html

  1. Explain the rationale for what has come to be called the “separation of powers.”

  2. Federalist, No. 51 argues that members of one branch should not be involved in the selection of members of another branch. Why, according to Madison, is a “deviation” from this principle warranted in the case of the judiciary?

  3. According to Madison (1788) in Federalist, No. 51, why is a system of independent “departments” (that is branches) of government with separate powers necessary?

  4. Which branch does Madison believe will be predominant? How does the structure of government outlined in the proposed constitution minimize or remedy the problem of that one branch being too powerful?

  5. Explain what is meant by calling the United States a “compound republic” and summarize the advantages of being a “compound republic.”

  6. In Federalist, No. 51, Madison expresses a view of human nature common in the late 18th century. How does that view compare to our current view of human nature?



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