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United States Constitution and the Historical Foundations of the American Political System


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General Websites

Ben's Guide to U.S. Government

Library of Congress Online   

National Archives and Records Constitution of the United States

Primary Documents of American History

Destiny Catalog Websites

The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution

If you are looking for an online guide to the text of the United States Constitution, this is the perfect website. You can read the Preamble, the Articles, and the Amendments on this site. Click onto the topic icon you wish to read for the exact text. In addition, you will get information on the history and meaning for each section. This site explains the Constitution in an easy-to-read manner so that students can better understand the United States Constitution.
Topic: United States.--Constitution   Language: English Lexile: 610  http://www.annenbergclassroom.org

Key Constitutional Concepts

Learn about key concepts related to the United States Constitution in this three part series of videos. You will listen to discussions on the creation of the Constitution, the protection of individuals' rights, and checks and balances. Two particular historic cases related to these key concepts are examined as well. In addition to the video series you will also find three lesson guides and a timeline of the Sixth Amendment. Each video is approximately twenty minutes long.
Topic: United States.--Constitution   Language: English  Video  http://www.annenbergclassroom.org

The American Constitution: A Documentary Record

This historic collection of documents serves as a record of the United States Constitution. There are approximately one hundred documents from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and there is one document that dates back all the way to the thirteenth century. Within the collection you will find documents related to the American Revolution and independence, the members of the Federal Convention, the Constitutional Convention, and the ratification and formation of the government. There are notes, texts, letters, and agreements included with this collection of constitutional documents.
Topic: Constitutional history, United States.--Constitution, United States.--Constitutional Convention--(1787)   Language: English  Lexile: BR http://avalon.law.yale.edu

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention

The United States Library of Congress supplies this online resource with documents pertaining to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. First, you can choose to research the Timeline, which includes events between 1764-1775 such as the Sugar Act and the Currency Act. Then read the Timeline between 1776-1780. This was the time of Revolution in America. You can also choose to research documents, such as the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Topic: Constitutional history, United States.--Constitutional Convention--(1787), Continental Congress   Language: English    Lexile: 1290    http://memory.loc.gov

Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States grants us many rights as people, but in the begining it was missing many important components. Learn about the history of our Constitution through this great web site. You will need to navigate through the site to find the information you are most interested in. There are links to the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process, questions and answers related to the Constitution and the Constitutional Amendments. There is also a link to America's Founding Fathers.
Topic: United States.--Constitution   Language: English  Lexile: 1380   Primary Source Material

Second Party System

This overview introduces the second party system in the history of United States politics. Look back at the Second American Party System that was in place from 1834 to 1856. The close competition between the Whigs and the Democrats during the 1800s is discussed. Find out why the Republican Party permanently displaced the Whigs. This site has information about other political parties during that time as well as facts about political events and the political culture.
Topic: Two-party systems   Language: English    Lexile: 1620  http://dig.lib.niu.edu

Creating a Constitution

From Shays Rebellion to the Great Compromise of 1787, learn about the people and events surrounding the United States Constitution. Daniel Shays was a loyal soldier during the Revolutionary War. He even got promoted to captain. After the war, he didn't have any money because the government didn't pay him in currency others would accept. In debt to merchants, he was angry because he could lose everything and go to jail. States were fighting like siblings after the war, worried about territory, taxes, and big government. Find out how the Virginia and New Jersey Plans contributed to Congress.
Topic: Constitutional history, United States.--Constitution   Language: English http://www.goushistorygo.com

We the People

The two documents shared in this online activity are George Washington's copy of a draft of the U.S. Constitution and the final, ratified version of the Constitution of the United States. When you click on the button to start the activity, you will be directed to a screen that shows both documents. Using the magnifying glass tool, you can zoom in on the documents. Compare the differences in the two documents and explore the reasons for the changes in wording.
Topic: United States.--Constitution   Language: English    Lexile: 1270  Interactive   Primary Source Material  http://docsteach.org

Federalists versus Antifederalists

Trying to get the 55 members of the Philadelphia Convention to agree on the first United States Constitution was very challenging, as was educating the populace about the Constitution so that this important document could be ratified. Many people also felt strongly that there should be a Bill of Rights, defining the personal rights of the people. Learn more about this time of great change in American history, including the election of George Washington as the first President of the United States, when you use the resources by the University of California on the HippoCampus web site.
Topic: United States, Constitutional period, 1789-1809, Washington, George,--1732-1799 Language: English  Audio Primary Source Material http://www.montereyinstitute.org

Origins and Development of the United States Senate

The role of the Senate in the new federal government was decided hundreds of years ago by the framers of the Constitution and has changed with time. Look back at the creation and the history of the U.S. Senate and see how this governing body has evolved. The related links on this page explain the guidelines for the Senate that are mandated in the Constitution. Find out when the Senate moved to Washington and when the permanent committees were established. Look at a detailed chronology.
Topic: United States.--Congress.--Senate  Language: English  Lexile: 1270  http://www.senate.gov

The U.S. Congress: The House of Representatives

There is one very important reason why Congress is divided into two distinct branches: The House of Representatives supports states with large populations and the Senate supports states with small populations. This government guide for kids presents information on the House of Representatives. You will learn about the specific requirements for a Representative and the number of elected terms allowed for a Representative. You will also read about some of the specific jobs performed by the House of Representatives.
Topic: United States.--Congress.--House   Language: English    Lexile: 920  http://bensguide.gpo.gov

Due Process

This article is an outstanding resource for anyone who wants a thorough, detailed discussion of the history and importance of the due process clauses in U.S. law. It includes commentary on substantive due process and its role in protecting against the establishment of laws that may infringe on individual liberties. There is also an enlightening discussion of how due process makes us look closely at the difference between a right and a privilege, and a lengthy analysis of three problems that have arisen in recent years as the dividing line between rights and privileges has become less clearly defined.
Topic: Due process of law   Language: English    Lexile: 1420  http://www.law.cornell.edu

Substantive Due Process

The due process of law that is guaranteed under the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution is often interpreted to have two sub-categories: procedural due process and substantive due process. This web site does an excellent job of explaining the distinction between these two types of due process, and it explains the significance of substantive due process in expanding the power of judicial review. The article ends with a balanced discussion presenting viewpoints of both critics and advocates of the concept of substantive due process.
Topic: Due process of law   Language: English    Lexile: 1420  http://www.stanford.edu

Right to Due Process

For a concise, clear discussion of “due process of law”, read this article that provides a description of the way the interpretation and impact of the due process clauses (fifth and fourteenth amendments) have evolved. The discussion points out how in the early 1800’s the Supreme Court refused to apply the fifth amendment to state laws, thereby illustrating the importance of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment after the Civil War. The article also describes the differences between procedural and substantive due process, and it provides specific examples that make the distinctions understandable.
Topic: Due process of law   Language: English    Lexile: 1440  http://www.lincoln.edu

Amending the Constitution

The writers of the American Constitution had the wisdom and forethought to build in the process for changing it when necessary. This process is called the amendment process, and you will find an excellent overview on this web page. Find out how amendments are added to the Constitution. Discover what is unique about the voting process for the Twenty-First Amendment, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, and read about the possible reason for the change. Links are provided to the full texts of all amendments.
Topic: 21st Amendment, Constitutional amendments Language: English  Lexile: 1470  http://www.thisnation.com

Amending the Constitution: 100 Days to 200 Years

The U.S. Constitution has been changed 27 times since 1787. Two years after the Constitution was written, 12 amendments were sent to the states for ratification. Ten dealt with individual rights, and became the Bill of Rights in 1791. One dealt with congressional apportionment, but was never ratified by the states. Another dealt with congressional pay, and was finally ratified in 1992 as the 27th amendment. It was originally intended to be the 2nd amendment. This amendment says that if Congress votes for a pay increase, it cannot become effective until after the next election.
Topic: Constitutional amendments   Language: English    Lexile: 1180  http://blogs.archives.gov