The United States Constitution has become the most important document ever created in American history. The delegates who met in Philadelphia in 1787 were given the arduous task of creating a government that firmly guaranteed freedom, liberty, and justice. Many of the members of the Constitutional Convention witnessed the incredibly challenging task of declaring independence from Britain and now once again, they were forced to fight to establish freedom. Compromise would become integral in the pursuit of progress in the summer of 1787. The ideals set forth by the new Constitution did not come easy, but as the newly established republic would find out, the years of compromise would lead to a much stronger and unified Union.
Although the American Revolution is remembered for the series of military battles from 1775 to 1783, the unprecedented political battles that occurred simultaneously were equally as significant. Before the British surrender of Yorktown, colonial delegates gathered in secret to formulate a structure for the future of American Democracy. Before many of these delegates would be enshrined as America’s “founding fathers”, they had to create a long-term plan for a stable and just republic. The first attempt at the creation of a new government came under the Articles of Confederation.
The government under the Articles of Confederation gave too much power to the states, which resulted in a weak central government that lacked adequate executive and judicial branches. Following the American Revolution, American delegates would convene again with the fate of the new nation hanging in the balance. The weak government created under the Articles of Confederation had left these new American states in a disjointed and very vulnerable position. Delegates had to act quickly to create a new government which ensured liberty but also was strong enough to function effectively. The delegates drafted the United Stated Constitution, which outlined a three-branched government that balanced the needs and securities of the American people.
Through the activities in this Constitutional Convention lesson plan, students will be be introduced to the creation and ratification of the United States Constitution. Students will discuss and research the background of the Constitution, understand the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, examine the role that compromise had in this new republic, and connect how these freedoms and liberties created still remain in society today.