Constitution

Civics and Governance Standard 6.CG.1

How does a government form?

What should a government do?

Deserted Island

When the American Revolution succeeded, what did the colonists need to do? As stated on America's Library, a link from the EDSITEment resource American Memory, "When the Colonies declared their independence from Britain, they had a flag and an army. What they lacked was a government."

What are the responsibilities of independence?

Pose a hypothetical situation to the class. Imagine that, on a field trip to Tahiti, the students became stranded—without any adults and with little hope of being rescued in the foreseeable future—on a very hospitable tropical island. Start with a brief, general discussion about such matters as: How will you work together? How will you create rules? How will you deal with people who group members think are not following the rules?

Then, either brainstorming as a class or working in small groups (if desired, groups can be assigned the questions below), make lists of the things the group would have to consider in developing its own government. Help the students by asking these guiding questions, which relate to phrases from the Preamble (indicated here for the teacher and to be discussed with the students in Lesson 4):

  1. How will you make sure that anyone who feels unfairly treated will have a place to air complaints? (establishing justice)
  2. How will you make sure that people can have peace and quiet? (ensuring domestic tranquility)
  3. How will you make sure that group members will help if outsiders arrive who threaten your group? (providing for the common defense)
  4. How will you make sure that the improvements you make on the island (such as shelters, fireplaces and the like) will be used fairly? (promoting the general welfare)
  5. How will you make sure that group members will be free to do what they want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else? (securing the blessing of liberty to ourselves)
  6. How will you make sure that the rules and organizations you develop protect future generations? (securing the blessing of liberty to our posterity)

If the students worked in groups, allow time for sharing.

Now share with the class the political cartoon The Horse America, Throwing His Master and its title, available through a link from the EDSITEment resource American Memory.

What do the students observe in the cartoon? What is the cartoonist saying? What was happening in 1779?

Encourage class discussion. Having just released themselves from Britain's monarchy, what would the colonists fear? Judging from some of the complaints the colonists had against Britain, what might some of their concerns be for any future government? As in the hypothetical situation on the desert island, what decisions would the colonists have to make about forming a new government out of 13 colonies, which, until 1776, had basically been running themselves independently?

The Horse throwing it's Master

Political Cartoon (primary source)

US Government

Details of US government