Unit 1: American Constitutional Government

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Advanced Placement United States Government

Unit 1: American Constitutional Government

Chapters 1, 2, and 3 in the Wilson text
The AP student’s primary responsibility is to read each day’s assigned section of the textbook and to have a solid grasp of the main ideas, concepts, and terminology in that section. Each class period may begin with a quiz that evaluates the student’s understanding of the material. The teacher’s role is to clarify the significance of the readings, concepts, and terms and to facilitate a discussion of the material that enhances student understanding. If the student does not fully understand a term or concept, he/she must ask in class.
Note: The questions labeled “FD” (For Discussion) below will not be asked on a quiz; however, these questions may form the basis of a class discussion, so students should consider these questions as they read.

In preparation for class on…



Main Ideas, Concepts, and Terminology


Thu, Aug 21

Fri, Aug 22

Political Ideology “Quiz”

Mon, Aug 25

Tue, Aug 26

Power and Democracy

Ch. 1


1-1 Explain the difference between power and authority.

1-2 Discuss historical examples in which governmental legitimacy had been (or is currently) questioned and challenged.

1-3 Identify and describe several advantages and disadvantages of both direct and representative democracy.

1-4 democracy: direct (or participatory) vs. representative

1-5 initiative (see p. 59)

1-6 referendum (see p. 59)

1-7 recall (see p. 59)

Wed, Aug 27

Theories of Power and Influence

Ch. 1


1-8 majoritarian politics vs. elite politics

1-9 the 4 theories of elite influence: Marxist, “power elites,” bureaucrats, pluralist

FD: Where do you believe true power and/or authority rests in America? Do you consider this to be good or bad for the nation?

Thu, Aug 28

Fri, Aug 29

The Constitutional Convention

Ch. 2


1-10 Identify and describe several weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

1-11 Explain the Great Compromise. Why was it significant to the convention?

1-12 unalienable rights

1-13 Articles of Confederation: strengths, weaknesses

1-14 Constitutional Convention

1-15 Shays’ Rebellion

1-16 Virginia Plan vs. New Jersey Plan

Mon, Sep 1

NO SCHOOL – Labor Day

Tue, Sep 2

The Constitution: Democracy

Ch. 2


1-17 Explain how and why power is divided in the Constitution.

1-18 republic

1-19 Marbury v. Madison (1803), judicial review

1-20 checks and balances

1-21 federalism

1-22 separation of powers

1-23 faction

FD: How democratic is the Constitution?

Wed, Sep 3

Study Skills

Thu, Sep 4

The Constitution: Liberty

Ch. 2


1-24 Explain the purpose of The Federalist (Papers).

1-25 Explain why a bill of rights was not included in the original constitution and why it was later added.

1-26 Federalists vs. Antifederalists

1-27 coalition

1-28 writ of habeas corpus

1-29 bill of attainder

1-30 ex post facto law

FD: Would you have been a Federalist or Antifederalist? Why?

Fri, Sep 5

Motives of

the Framers

Ch. 2

37-39; 40

1-31 Beard’s thesis (Economic Interpretation of Constitution)

FD: Did the Constitution make the government too strong or too weak?

FD: Were women left out of the Constitution?

Mon, Sep 8

Constitutional Reform: A Modern View

Ch. 2

39; 41-45

1-32 Explain the two ways to propose, and two ways to ratify, an amendment to the Constitution.

1-33 line-item veto

FD: How would you amend the Constitution? (Propose an amendment.) Evaluate its chances of ratification by discussing the process of amendment.

Tue, Sep 9

Discuss Federalist

Nos. 10 and 51

Wed, Sep 10

How to complete case briefs

Thu, Sep 11

Fri, Sep 12


Ch. 3


1-34 What are some advantages/disadvantages of the federal system?

1-35 How did Hamilton’s and Jefferson’s (and Madison’s) views of federalism differ?

1-36 devolution

1-37 block grants

1-38 sovereignty

1-39 unitary system vs. confederation (confederal) vs. federal system

1-40 Tenth Amendment

1-41 “elastic” clause (“necessary and proper” clause)

FD: In your opinion, is federalism “good” or “bad?” Explain.



Mon, Sep 15

Tue, Sep 16

Debating Federalism

Ch. 3


1-42 How has the meaning of federalism evolved over time?

1-43 nullification

1-44 dual federalism

FD: Historically, power has generally flowed to the federal government. What reasons exist for the states to continue exercising independent power?

Case Briefs:

- McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

- Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

Wed, Sep 17

Constitution Day

Thu, Sep 18

Federal-State Relations

Ch. 3


1-45 grants-in-aid

1-46 categorical grants

1-47 revenue sharing

1-48 conditions of aid

1-49 mandates

FD: Do grant programs enable Congress to do what it pleases by bribing states into compliance, thus undermining the balance of federalism?

Fri, Sep 19

A Devolution Revolution?

Ch. 3


1-50 What factors have contributed to the recent trend toward devolution?

Mon, Sep 22

Tue, Sep 23


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