We the People U.S. Constitution & Civics Essays
"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." John F. Kennedy

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Listen to this essay and respond - Tax 'Rebate' Is Borrowed Money in Disguise
Documents dated after 1965 were excluded from the National Archive's 100 Milestone Documents list.
Perhaps there is a document that you feel should have been included in the original list.
Remedy the oversight. Write a persuasive essay advocating for it being added.
The National Archives set a limit of 100 documents, which one would you delete from the list?

Key Documents that Inspired and Informed the Struggle for Independence

The Avalon Project at Yale - digital documents related to the American Constitution; Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Documents; the Cold War; Indochina; Nazi-Soviet Relations 1939-1941; and the United States concerning Native Americans and Slavery.

Civics Online documents resources

The 100 Milestone Documents are directly connected to people who played critical roles in the history of our nation.
Select one of the documents. Research the person or people involved.
What event(s) in their lives lead to the creation of the document?
Did the document achieve the desired outcome?

Would you have supported the document's outcomes? How?

Identify a document that has triggered significant controversy right now.
What is the controversy?
Where do you stand: supporting it or against it?

The Equal Rights Amendment, was proposed in 1923 by Alice Paul.
It has been ratified by thirty-five states. It is still not part of the U.S. Constitution.
What is the status of the ERA today?
Write a persuasive essay either for or against it.
The First Amendment of the Constitution grants citizens of the United States of America certain specific rights.
What are they?
Which one(s) do you value the most? Explain.

Susan B. Anthony Trial and the right to vote. 14th Amendment & 19th Amendment


The right of the people to rule Spoken by: Theodore Roosevelt, Progressive Party candidate for U.S. President.
recording date: c. August 1912 text

Describe how this historic speech is relevant today.

In his 1961 inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy said,
“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
Listen to the address

What are a citizen's duties and responsibilities towards their country?

Constitution Day - Marshall Quote Essay ms/hs
"The people made the Constitution and the People can unmake it.
It is the creature of their will and lives only by their will."
Privacy and the Digital Age ms/hs
Transparency Essay - how does it benefit society? ms/hs
How are Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms emblematic of the Bill of Rights? - research then respond.
The word “democracy” does not appear once in the Constitution.
When reciting the Pledge of Allegiance we say .. “And to the Republic for which it stands".
Most Americans describe their government as a democracy.

Is the United States of America governed by a democratic or republican form of government?
Contrast the two forms of government using a diagram. Diagram how to

Come to a conclusion - Which form of government do you prefer?

Do you believe in the rule of law? Read or listen to the essay. Respond
The U.S. Constitution calls for an "Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States,
and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."
We commonly call this enumeration the Census.

How is the census conducted?
Describe the impact the census has on the representation of citizens of the United States in the federal government.

"In our government," James Madison remarked, "it is perhaps less necessary to guard against the abuse
in the Executive Department . . . because it is not the stronger branch of the system, but the weaker."

Discuss his assertion in the light of current events.

President James Monroe’s 1823 annual message to Congress contained the Monroe Doctrine.

Is President George W. Bush abiding by the dominion principles Monroe asserted as regards our actions in the Middle East?

President John F. Kennedy said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
In the more than two hundred year history of the United States of America., there have been many "revolutions".
How many of the USA's "revolutions" been peaceful?
What parts of the U. S. Constitution make peaceful revolution possible?

Of the forty-two delegates who participated in drafting the Constitution, only thirty-nine actually signed it.
Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign. Why?
Do you agree with their decision? Were their concerns ever addressed? Describe how.

Regarding the U. S. Constitution, do you support the idea of an "evolving Constitution"
or do you support the "original intent" theory?

Gerrymandering - Are Voting Rights preserved by your State’s Voting Districts?
(The links in the pdf's footnotes are active. Click them to view to the primary document online.)
Reforming Government Persuasive Essay - advocate for or against change What would John Dickinson say?
Freedom of Information and the Public's Right to Know essay
Chart Reading: Uninsured in the USA - Who should pay?
Who is in charge of your health care decisions? - hs
"... the Constitution is not merely a matter of words" Harry S Truman
Some historians describe the Dred Scott case as one of the darkest days in American democracy.
Do you agree or disagree. Explain.
Patrick Henry was a political maverick. Some considered him a patriot.
After all he argued, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
... I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Some people, both in the colonies and abroad, branded him a subversive. He stood steadfast for his principles which included being an Anti-Federalist.

What do you believe? Was Patrick Henry a patriot or a subversive? What were his contributions to the United States? Support your answer with facts.

Patriotism, I now believe, isn't some sentimental, old conceit. It's self-preservation.” Frank Miller.
Read or listen to his essay. Respond.
"I have never known a man whose love of country was more ardent or sincere.." John Adams.
Who was James Otis? What role did he play in founding the republic?
The Constitution has been construed as granting broad powers of authority over Indian affairs to the President and to Congress.
What rights do Native Americans have in the U.S. today?
Have the native peoples been given the freedoms enjoyed by other races in the U.S.?
President George W. Bush used a signing statement to grab new powers to open people's mail without a judge's warrant.
Is this in conflict with your rights as expressed in the Constitution? Do you support the reasoning behind his decision?
What is the nature of public service? Wangari Maathai
Select a Landmark Supreme Court case. Describe its impact and import in your life.
In the later 1890s, class divisions between the super rich industry owners and the working class people who were impoverished were teetering on class wars. How did the Supreme Court use the Constitution to deal with it?
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial project
Government Reform - Term Limits
Listen to your Representative's speech in the 2007 U. S. House of Representative Iraq debate. Do you agree or disagree?
Thomas Paine & Common Sense

Government - What does your legislator owe you?

Voters Rights - Convicted Felons?

Should we permit illegal aliens, who are criminals or who commit crimes in the U.S., to remain in the U.S.?

Immigration & Society , Immigration impact video - Immigration Debate - Rhetoric vs Reality video
Examine the facts. Respond, based on the facts, what do you think?

Should wedge issues be used to encourage people to vote?

Exploring Population Density and Land use Issues
Dig into Lobbying in Pennsylvania Government
Watch David McElroy's video "We're the Government -- and You're Not". Respond to one of the issues.
“There is an infinite number of variables that determine the quality of democracy. We could list them for the rest of our lives, and we wouldn’t list them all. But there are only two on which the survival of the democracy depends, and they are a free press and an independent judiciary. You can’t have a democracy without those two things. There never has been one, and there never will be one." Judge Alexander Sanders

Does the United States have an independent judiciary? Explain.

“There is an infinite number of variables that determine the quality of democracy. We could list them for the rest of our lives, and we wouldn’t list them all. But there are only two on which the survival of the democracy depends, and they are a free press and an independent judiciary. You can’t have a democracy without those two things. There never has been one, and there never will be one." Judge Alexander Sanders

Identify 10 variables that determine the quality of your government.

How would you define the American Dream?
Read: The New Psychology of Leadership - Select a leader in your world. It could be someone that is local, national or international.
Do they demonstrate this "new leadership" model? How? OR Why not?
The Yes Men - democracy for sale - Try your hand at this approach to dealing with a problem facing you today.
Is satire a tool for changing policy?
Government - What should be done about the House of Representatives vote?
Watch - Buying the War. What do these findings mean for the principle of a free & independent press?
What should be done about the gas and oil royalties?
At what point is a person rich? Read the article. What impact does this thinking have on government?
Earmarks Examining United States society.
Read - Smoking declines as taxes increase USA Today 8/10/07.
Identify a tax leveled in your state that may impact people's behavior.
Is it also taxed by the federal government?
Should taxes be used to adjust people's behavior?
American's Creed Day project
Is this an appropriate use of tax dollars? Taxpayers are helping to pay for corporate executives to travel to a destination golf resort.
The airwaves belong to the U.S. citizens. Watch Big and Bigger Media. Also watch this interview of FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps

Who owns your local TV and radio stations? Newspaper?
Do you think that media consolidation is a problem? Does the U.S.A. have an oligopoly of the public information sources?
What impact does this have on the principle of freedom of the press and the airwaves being used for the public interest?

Gouverneur Morris, The Constitution and Slavery
Should the 17th Amendment be repealed? Explore the issues surrounding this movement. Communicate your conclusion.
Tecumseh’s and Patrick Henry’s Language of Resistance
While listening to a call in show, you hear a caller mention "The Liberty Amendment". What is it? Do you support it?
Bonus Army treatment and veterans today
Watch For your eyes only - write an opinion essay
We the people of the United States live under a different Constitution than the one that was ratified in 1791.
Many events have lead to changes or clarifications in the original document.

Select one of the examples listed at The U.S. Constitution Online.
Dig deeper into the people and events that lead to the change.
Give a multimedia presentation to your class or family about the change.
Close by explaining why you do or do not agree with the outcome.

70. In your opinion, which of the National Archives' 100 Milestone Documents has had the greatest influence on your life?
Support your answer with relevant historic facts.

Reach - Relate it to current events.
71. Government Integrity - The Power of facts from the Web
72. Watch - Interview with Andrew J. Bacevich regarding The Limits of Power.

Jimmy Carter speech July 15, 1976 - Malaise speech or Crisis of Confidence ( Listen to it)

Ronald Reagan - Morning in America - Morning in America 1984 ad

Can we or should we modify our way of life today in order to preserve that which we value most?

Can the United States or should the United States invest in controlling other countries around the world?

73. Government - The Common Good new
74. In all our associations; in all our agreements let us never lose sight of this fundamental
maxim—that all power was originally lodged in, and consequently is derived from,
the people. We should wear it as a breastplate, and buckle it on as our armour. —George Mason, 1775

How did Mason advocate for what he believed? Who benefited from his efforts? new

75. U. S. Constitution - Checks and Balances
76. Hunger in America - What should be done?
77. What are the nation's Priorities?
78. What are the US priorities regarding health care spending?
79. Death Penalty Debate new
  You CAN Handle The Truth - The Secret Government videos on youtube
  Politics at Project Gutenberg - the process by which groups make decisions

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" Benjamin Franklin

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Updated 9/2023, posted 2/2006 by Cynthia J. O'Hora