Additional Activities

Final Project -- The Second Constitutional Convention

In this lesson, we have studied how the ideas that shaped the Constitution were discussed, debated, and modified to fit the needs of a new nation. We have also seen how the individual leaders of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists clarified those ideas by applying them to the issues of ratification and the National Bank. In particular, we have seen how the debate over federalism, civil liberties, and republicanism influenced the formation of the first political parties, and how those parties promoted not just their ideas but their leaders in pursuing their political agendas. Indeed, if it were not for people like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and George Washington, we might not be able to so easily understand the differences in political thinking during the Constitutional era.

Directions: Working in pairs or small groups assigned by your teacher, complete the following three (3) parts of this project. You will need to do work offline, so be sure to have your social studies book with you. Be sure to check with your teacher to see when each part of this project is due.

Part 1 -- The New Convention: Federalists or Anti-Federalist?

Imagine that you and your classmates are preparing for a new Constitutional Convention, to be held during the first week of next month. The new convention is being called by members of Congress from around the country who are interested in answering the following questions:

1. Has the President’s authority become so great that he has more power than the Congress and Supreme Court?
2. Is the power balanced between the national government and individual states?
3. Are civil liberties as strongly protected today as they were in 1791?

Write a 3 to 5 sentence response to each question, in which you thoughtfully consider all sides of the question and provide a clear and direct opinion. Once you have written all three responses, look back over your notes from the lesson regarding the Federalist and Anti-Federalists. Decide whether your answers would make you a Federalist or an Anti-Federalist. You will choose one of these labels for the next activity, so be prepared to defend your decision.

Part 2 -- Forming A New Political Party: The Legacy of the “Founding Fathers”

Find three (3) other students who have decided that they belong to your same party. Read your journal answers to each other and decide on five (5) opinions that you have in common based on those answers. Make a separate list of those opinions. Then, using your arts and crafts resources and materials from the classroom, make a collage that clearly shows each of those opinions. Be sure to label where each opinion is illustrated, as well as any other ideas you may want to make clear for other observers.

Next, look back through your notes from the lesson, the lesson itself, and your social studies book. Decide whether your opinions most closely resemble those of one of the following “founding fathers”: Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, or George Washington. Across the top of your collage, write in large, bold letters the name of your “founding father.”

Part 3 -- Different Ideas About the Same Thing

Now, walk around the class and see which other groups chose your same “founding father.” See if all of your ideas are similar, and make note of those which are especially different. Also look to see if another group put an idea similar to your own with another historical character.

Finally, present your collage to the class. Be sure to point out each of your political opinions and defend why you have placed each idea goes with that character. Point out any changes you might make to either your collage or your opinions based on the work that other students in the class have done. Also, suggest changes that other student groups might make in order to fit their ideas with their specific “founding father.” Think about what changes you might make to these ideas in order for them to appeal to a larger group of people (not just your class, but the citizens of Chicago, Illinois, or the United States, in general).