Civics & Economicsby Matthew Caggia

Unit 1: Foundations of American Government

Chapters 1.3, 2.1, 2.4, 3.2

To understand the US Constitution we first must learn about the ideas and philosophies that became its foundin principles. For this we must look historically to traditions of law as far back as the Athenians and as recently as the time period in which it was written. Very much on the minds of the founding fathers was the Enlightenment, as well as the experiences of the colonies under the rule of Great Britain. Much of this unit will be review from World History and American History I, but contains key ideas and principles that went into the founding of the United States.

Study Tools

Online Textbook Resources

These pages contain the links to the online content for student practice. It includes Chapter Overviews, Web Activities, Self-Check Quizzes, ePuzzles and Games, Vocabulary Flashcards, Charts in Motion (to accompany diagrams in the textbook), and Interactive Graphic Organizers.


Link to Quizlet! Vocabulary is the key to understanding any subject. Once you can break down the barrier of language the ideas and concepts are wide open. Here you can find the vocabulary for the unit to practice by using online flash cards and by practicing online generated vocabulary quizzes.

Enlightenment Thinkers

This presentation is shown in class and is accompanied by a handout. The ideas that contribute to the new government of the US! John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Natural Rights, the Social Contract, and Separation of Powers!

Coming of the American Revolution

This presentation is shown in class and is accompanied by a handout. This presentation is a summary of some events leading to the American Revolution and is important for understanding the origin of ideas in the US Constitution.

Spectrum of Government Systems

This presentation is shown in class and is accompanied by a handout. From this presentation the student will learn the basic definitions and differences between government systems. Much of this should be a review of history learned in World History.

A Bundle of Compromises

This presentation accompanies the "Bundle of Compromises" Chart. The diverse history and culture of the original 13 colonies, now 13 states, made it very difficult for the delegations at the Constitutional Convention to agree on how a new government should be set up. As a result it was necessary for each side compromise in order to at least get part of what they wanted. Remember, a compromise is an agreement between two different sides where each gives up a little in order to get much of what they want so that in the end, neither feels as though they are the loser in the deal. The Constitution has sometimes been called, "A Bundle of Compromises."


Crash Course US Government and Politics #4: Federalism

From the publisher:
Craig Benzine teaches you about federalism, or the idea that in the United States, power is divided between the national government and the 50 state governments. Craig will teach you about how federalism has evolved over the history of the US, and what powers are given to the federal government, and what stuff the states control on their own. And he punches an eagle, which may not surprise you at all.

Crash Course US Government and Politics #5: Constitutional Compromises

From the publisher:
Craig Benzine teaches you about the compromises met in ratifying the U.S. Constitution. The United Stateís didnít always have its current system of government. Actually, this is itís second attempt. Craig will delve into the failures (and few successes) of the Articles of Confederation, tell you how delegates settled on a two-house system of representation, discuss the issues of slavery and population that have been imbedded into our constitution, and fire up the clone machine to discuss how federalists and anti-federalist opposition provided the U.S. a Bill of Rights. And who knows, maybe all this talk of compromise will even inspire Craig and eagle to find some middle ground.

Video Link:

John Adams - Declaration of Independence

The most reliable source of information from the Second Continental Congress are from the correspondence between John Adams and his wife Abagail. This scene from the HBO mini-series "John Adams" demonstrates the importance and the seriousness of the decision to declare independence from Britain. You can see and feel the weight of each state's delegation when they vote in favor of independence. It is clear that the decision was not an easy and one, and one that cannot be undone.

A Powerful Performance

This is the first part of an excellent and brief documentary of the Declaration of Independence. Morgan Freeman introduces the document in this segment and briefly explains the global significance of this document.

The Declaration of Independence

This is the conclusion of the segment above. In this segment, the Declaration of Independence is narrated by famous contemporary actors. It is a powerful performance of this important document.

Schoolhouse Rock: Fireworks

More Schoolhouse Rock! Great and catchy jingle for the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War. "The Declaration, of Independence, in seventeen-hundred and seventy-six..."

Too Late to Apologize A Declaration

Creative music video based on the song "Apologize" by One Republic. Here the founders are telling the King that it is too late to apologize for all that he had done to the colonies. It is time to declare independence.

Creating the Constitution

This entertaining video summarizes all of the main ideas of this unit. It is a very good production and presented in a much more engaging style than your typical documentary.

Note: The video is split in two parts in order to meet the requirements of YouTube.

Part 1

Part 2


Copyright M. Caggia 2018