The Constitutional Convention
By 1786, the need for a change in the United States Government was evident. Though the Northwest Ordinance and peace treaty with Great Britain had been achieved under the Articles of Confederation, apparent weaknesses in the form of government it established and several events called into question the further utility of this document. Hence, delegates from across the country met in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 initially to revise the Articles and ended up recreating the basis for United States government that exists today.
Your task as you complete this project will be to go back in time to late 18th Century United States and assume one of the following roles:
- Role 1: You are a reporter for the Washington Post assigned to cover the Constitutional Convention.
- Role 2: You are a public relations person hired by Federalist delegates who wish to convince their fellow delegates to ratify the new constitution or to convince the population of the states to encourage their delegates to support ratification.
Use all available technology to delve into the significant events and figures that dominated this critical turning point in United States government.
Once you have decided on a role, read over the scoring rubric for the project you are to complete. Then, view the procedures for your particular task and begin to research. Below you will find a list of suggested resources to aid in this process.
1. The Reporter—You have been assigned to cover the Constitutional Convention for the Washington Post.
- Create a 1-2 page newsletter using Microsoft Publisher. Write at least 2 articles about the Convention.
- Consider the following topics for articles you might include in your newsletter: Include pictures and/or graphic effects to enhance the appearance of your newsletter articles.
- The delegates—number of delegates selected, who attended and who did not, delegate profiles (oldest, youngest, professional backgrounds, information about prominent delegates
- The states—which did and did not send any delegates to the convention and the reasons for non-attendance.
- The document—what topics were heavily debated in reference to the Constitution, what special features were worked into the document, who supported or did not support the document and why.
2. The Representative for a Public Relations Firm—The public relations firm you work for hopes to win support for the newly created Constitution by appealing directly to those delegates who oppose its principles and to the American people themselves.
- Create a 3-panel brochure/pamphlet using Microsoft Publisher that highlights and advertises significant aspects of the Constitution. Be sure to provide concise and simple information while demonstrating to your audience how these aspects benefit the American people. Include the following:
- An attractive, eye-catching title and cover page.
- Accurate information and reasons why ratifying the Constitution would be beneficial to the United States.
- A list of supporting states.
- Visual enhancement—pictures, clip art, etc.
- Create a 60-second video commercial to be shown on national television. This commercial should provide television viewers with important information about the proposed Constitution and specific examples to demonstrate how the adoption of the document will impact life in the United States.
v United States Government (Remy, 2002)—Use your textbook, Chapter 2 section 4 as a starting point for information pertaining to the Constitutional Convention
v Documents from the Constitutional Convention (Library of Congress)—Creating a Constitution—check out this site for some background information on the events that led to and comprised the Constitutional Convention.
v The Charters of Freedom (National Archives and Records Administration)—here, you will find a wealth of information pertaining to the Constitution itself and short biographies on the delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
v Constitution Facts—this site is a must see! Read the text of the Constitution, read up on all sorts of fascinating facts about the convention, and get biographical information on the signers of the Constitution.
The following are sets of directions that may be of assistance to you depending on which project you choose.
|Project Component||Crieria||Point Value|
Is the final project creative? Are there pictures, colors, or subtle accents that creatively blend the information contained in the project?
|Information||Is the information about the Constitutional Convention presented accurately and completely?|
|Spelling/Grammar||Is the project free of spelling and grammar errors?||10/50 points|
|Class Participation||Did the student effectively manage his/her time to complete the project on time? Did the student remain on task throughout the allotted class time given to work on this project?||10/50 points|
Did the student respond thoroughly and thoughtfully to each of the questions posed in the project conclusion?
And so it was written. On September 17, 1787, the final draft of the United States Constitution was complete and ready to begin the ratification process. Throughout the country, heated debates took place between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over whether or not to adopt the document until its final approval in 1788. This landmark achievement has served as the bedrock of United States government ever since. Consider the following questions as you debrief the activity:
Do you feel the Constitution was an improvement on the Articles of Confederation or should the Founding Fathers have left the Articles in place with modifications? Why or why not? Give specific examples to support your response.
How would you assess your participation in this project? What did you do well? What improvements would you make if you were to revisit this activity?
Overall, do you feel that your participation in this project provided you with a more meaningful understanding of how and why the United States Constitution was created? Why or why not?
Type your responses to these questions to be turned in with your final project.
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