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US Citizenship - Free online Course on US Citizenship

Lesson 1


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The Founding of America

The story of the founding of the United States of America is unique in all of history. After winning a war against Britain against all odds, the people of the newly free land sought to govern themselves in peace internally and with strength externally. These were not easily accomplished goals. On the one hand, the people had fought hard and sacrificed much to win their freedom, but they soon found that, to be fully enjoyed, freedom cannot be absolute — there must be some order and stability provided by a government. Determining the proper balance between individual liberty and government authority has been the most important political dilemma of the past three hundred years. Through the American Revolution and the subsequent efforts of the people of the United States to govern themselves, this question was raised, considered, debated, and answered in ways that were both stunningly simple and amazingly complex. The result of all this has been the longest-lasting written constitution in the history of the world.

  1. Identify the purposes and role of government.
  2. Identify the key events that culminated in the American Founding (the Revolutionary War, the adoption and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, Shays' Rebellion, and the Constitutional Convention).
  3. Identify and distinguish between various philosophies that contributed to the American founding.
  4. Identify and compare the major ideas of the Magna Charta, the English Bill of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Iroquois Confederation, and the United States Constitution.
  5. Compare and contrast the competing arguments of the Federalists and Anti-federalists in the battle for ratification of the Constitution.

For more information, look up the following Web site(s):

  • US Constitution
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Articles of Confederation
  • James Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention
  • Federalist Papers
  • Anti-Federalist Papers
  • John Locke's 2nd Treatise on Civil Government
  • Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan


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