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Please refer to the Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System website: (http://www.pdesas.org/module/sas/curriculumframework/SocialStudiesCF.aspx)
for information on the Pennsylvania Curriculum Framework for Social Studies. You will find much of the information about PA Academic Standards, essential questions, vocabulary, assessments, etc. by navigating through the various components of the Curriculum Framework.
LESSON / UNIT TITLE: (Type here.):
Teacher Name(s): Jessica Attardo-Maryott and Chris Weldy
School District: Athens Area School District
Building: Harlan Rowe Junior High School
Grade Level: 8
Subject: Civics (with a Marking Period of History)
Time Required: 2-3 class periods
Lesson/Unit Summary (2-3 sentence synopsis):
Students will explore the opposing viewpoints at the Constitutional Convention, focusing on Federalists versus Anti-Federalists. Students are to explore the need for compromise and what possible compromises could have been made in regards to protection from a central government.
Essential Questions for Lesson/Unit
What were the opposing views of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists?
What were the compromises reached at the Constitutional Convention?
Pennsylvania Academic Standards Addressed in Lesson/Unit
(Include standards numbers and standards statements.)
5.1.8.C: Analyze the principles and ideas that shaped local, Pennsylvania, and national governments.
5.1.8.D: Summarize the basic principles and ideals within documents and the roles played by the framers as found in significant documents.
5.2.8.B: Describe how citizens resolve conflicts in society and government.
8.1.8.B: Compare and contrast a historical event, using multiple points of view from primary and secondary sources
Students will be able to identify the viewpoints of both the Federalists and Anti-Federalists and the supporting reasoning for each viewpoint.
Students will be able to explain the compromise reached to satisfy both Federalists and Anti-Federalists regarding the inclusion of a bill of rights.
Students will identify the differing opinions between large and small states on the issue of legislative representation and the supporting reasoning for each viewpoint.
Students will be able to explain the legislative compromise reached to satisfy both the large and small states on the issue of Congressional representation.
Vocabulary/Key Terms for Lesson/Unit
Federalists/ Federalist Papers
Bill of Rights
Historical Background for Teachers / Research Narrative
Compromises at the Constitutional Convention
An essential unit in any Civics course is a well-developed discussion on the Bill of Rights. However, did you know that there was a debate as to whether the Bill of Rights was essential? The Federalists, who supported a strong federal government as the center of the United States, believed that the Constitution itself was a bill of people’s rights. There was no need to have a separate list of rights since the government was one of the people, by the people, and for the people. However, the Anti-Federalists feared a strong central government would be overcome by corruption and inevitably assume power over the people.
There are numerous letters and journal entries from our forefathers, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. In those letters and journals are expressed the anxieties and frustrations experienced during the Constitutional Convention. Many of those frustrations were published anonymously in New York newspapers, now known as the Federalists Papers.
This lesson explores the debates on both sides of the argument. Was a Bill of Rights necessary? Can students defend the positions they take? Those students will use primary documents and research to choose a position and determine whether they believed Hamilton and the Federalists were right or whether George Mason and the Anti-Federalists had realistic fears.
The United States Constitution was developed as a framework for our government. A solid house is built starting with a well thought out plan, followed by a solid frame. Our government was built in the same fashion. However, the Bill of Rights was not an intended element of that frame. The Bill of Rights was not added to the United States Constitution until over four years after the adoption of the Constitution. However, the passage of the Constitution was conditional. Several states refused to sign the Constitution, following the leadership of North Carolina who contended that the Constitution would not be ratified unless a Bill of Rights were guaranteed (Patrick, Leming, Eric Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education, & B'Nai B'rith, 1991).
The initial protest to the Constitution was led by George Mason, a delegate from Virginia (Patrick, et al., 1991). Mason’s proposal for the addition of a bill of rights was initially rejected. It was not until other delegates began to side with Mason’s arguments that the idea of a bill of rights gained momentum. The idea of a bill of rights was no secret; in fact, Alexander Hamilton printed a letter to his New York constituents addressing the subject. In what are referred to as the Federalist Papers, Hamilton informed the people “the fact is, that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution” (Hamilton, 1787).
There were two schools of thought on the Constitution. Those two schools broke into two groups known as the Federalists (those in favor of ratifying the U.S. Constitution) and the Anti-Federalists (those who sought to restrict the powers of the federal government). The Anti-Federalists were seen by advocates as those who were seeking “to protect the rights and liberties of mankind from the silent, powerful and ever active conspiracy of those who govern” (Bryan as cited in France, 1991). Many feared that, without limitations, the federal government would supersede the rights of the citizens (Patrick, et al., 1991), as had occurred with Mother England.
Alexander Hamilton, in a later Federalist Paper printed in McLean’s Edition, noted that the lack of a bill of rights was the overwhelming obstacle preventing the ratification of the Constitution (1788). Evidence of this tension can be found in several convention journal entries as recorded by James Madison. Madison noted that George Mason of Virginia stated during the August 1787 Constitutional Convention debates that he “would sooner chop off his right hand than put it to the Constitution as it now stands” (Madison, 1787).
Frustration was mounting. Certainly, a compromise was necessary if the Constitution was to achieve ratification. Suspicions were arising that the Anti-Federalists were not intending to pass the Constitution, even with a Bill of Rights attached to it (France, 1991). Rather, they saw the Bill of Rights debate as a way to distract states from the passage of the current document in hopes of defeating a document they viewed as giving a federal government an inconceivable amount of power over the states. France (1991) contends that the Federalists only agreed to the Bill of Rights after recognizing that a failure to do so would surely cause the Constitution’s demise.
Hamilton attempted to reason with his fellow New Yorkers by arguing that a bill of rights was unnecessary. Hamilton believed that such a document outlining the rights of the people would only be necessary in a circumstance where a government, such as a monarchy, held power over the people to ensure that the people are protected (1788). Hamilton continued with the argument that the United States Constitution, beginning with “We the People”, is an entire document designed for the protection of the people, and, therefore, is in its essence already a bill of rights (1788). Madison, in his journals, recognized Hamilton’s frustrations and anxieties over the potential failure of the convention and took note of Hamilton’s comments that if the convention were to set aside the Constitution until a bill of rights could be adopted that the momentum of the convention would die (Madison, 1787).
The ratification of the Constitution came only after there were assurances that the new Congress would enact amendments, listing the rights of the people. It became a rule of law, in a resolution of both houses of Congress, that the Bill of Rights be drafted and presented to Congress and the states as ordered on March 4, 1789 (H. Res., 1789).
Although there were arguments as to why a bill listing the rights of people were deemed necessary and unnecessary, it has opened the door of the United States to those oppressed by their own governments. Immigrants have surely benefitted from the protections of the Bill of Rights and may have chosen the United States as their home because of those protections. Assurances that the United States will neither establish a national religion nor prohibit one from practicing the religion of his choosing has allowed Jews to worship rather than work on Saturdays, Amish to school their children only until they are physically mature to work, and Jehovah’s Witnesses to excuse themselves from the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag that is seen as an object not of God (Choper, 2000). The Bill of Rights provides open access to information, such as government controversies, open discussions regarding the treatment of minorities, and freedom to publish uncensored books unlike countries, such as Indonesia (Bol, 1991). With these considerations, as well as research and primary documents in mind, students will need to choose for themselves: was the Bill of Rights redundant or necessary?
Bol, J. H. (1991). Freedom of Speech and the Role of Government: A Comparative Study - USA vs. Indonesia.
Choper, J. H. (2000). A Century of Religious Freedom. [Article]. California Law Review, 88(6), 1709.
France, S. (1991). First Principles: RIGHTS OF PAST AND FUTURE. [Article]. ABA Journal, 77(8), 38.
H. Res., 1st Cong., 398 House Document No. (1789) (enacted).
Hamilton, A. (1787). “Federalist Papers No. 1: General Introduction”. Independent Journal.
Yale University Archives, New Haven, CT. Retrieved from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed01.asp
Hamilton, A. (1788). “Federalist Papers No. 84: Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections
to the Constitution Considered and Answered”. McLean’s Edition. Yale University Archives, New Haven, CT. Retrieved from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed84.asp
Madison, J. (1787). [Madison Debates in Convention: August 31, 1787]. Yale University
Archives, New Haven, CT. Retrieved from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_831.asp
Patrick, J. J., Leming, R. S., Eric Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education, B. I. N., & B'Nai B'rith, N. Y. N. Y. A.-D. L. (1991). How To Teach the Bill of Rights.
Instructional Prodedures and Activities
Divide students into groups of 4. Each group will have a designated leader. Leader will be given a simple task that needs to be completed in class within 5 minutes. The rest of group is told they can do what they want (participate/not participate).
After 5 minutes, discuss who had accomplished task, difficulties of accomplishing task.
Compare this to running a nation using the Articles of Confederation.
Divide class into two groups.
Assign each group to be Federalist or Anti-Federalist.
Provide groups with writings of both Hamilton (Federalists) and Madison (Anti-Federalists). These will have been abbreviated to assist groups.
Groups are to create a list of reasons supporting their side. Students can get their “facts” from the source document and their own opinions/ideas.
Groups will present their positions in a debate setting.
Suggested Strategies for Differentiating Instruction
Hamilton and Madison’s papers summarized for lower readers/lower abilities.
Use of Kurtweil Reader for lower readers
For higher level students, add the requirement of choosing which side (Federalist or Anti-Federalist.) they would have been on and why to the Summative Assessment Essay.
Assessment of Student Learning (Formative and Summative)
Formative: Graphic Organizer identifying both positions and supporting evidence
Summative: Write a 3 paragraph essay explaining both sides and the compromise which was reached.
Materials and Resources
Hamilton’s Writings (Federalists’ Papers): Primary Source Document
Madison’s Writings: Primary Source Document
Websites: Listed with Works Cited at end of Research Narrative Section
Directions for classroom task
Rubric for Essay
Author(s) of Unit/Lesson Plan
Jessica Attardo-Maryott, Athens Area School District, Harlan Rowe Junior High School
Christopher Weldy, Athens Area School District, Harlan Rowe Junior High School
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