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A Focus on American Political Thought and History

screenshot, teachingamericanhistory.org

Bringing a well-known, founding document such as the Declaration of Independence into the classroom can be exciting, but it can also be daunting. TeachingAmericanHistory.org provides the transcribed text of the Declaration and related documents that can help teachers and students place it into a larger historical context, including the rough draft of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson's notes on debates in Congress, and the Constitution of Virginia.

These are just a sampling of the many resources available on this website created by the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University in connection with their nine TAH partnerships with school districts and education service centers in Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia.

Audio lectures and podcasts on a range of topics are among universally useful materials.

Two special exhibits focus on the U.S. Constitution, one on the Constitutional Convention and the other on ratification. Created primarily by Dr. Gordon Lloyd, a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, these exhibits present a range of materials, from introductory essays to a table with expected and final votes, from original notes on the debates in state conventions to an interactive painting of the signing of the Constitution that provides biographical information on the signers. Various introductions and essays raise and discuss provocative questions about the tactics of the Federalists and the legacy of Antifederalist ideas.

In addition to the Declaration of Independence and surrounding documents, TeachingAmericanHistory.org provides a range of primary sources, mostly texts, (letters, speeches, or documents) and secondary sources (links to websites, audio lectures, and bibliographies). Materials are arranged chronologically into eight eras (e.g., Colonial Era, Progressive Era, and Modern Era) and six thematic categories (e.g., legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government). Many of these sources, such as the Federalist Papers or Presidential inaugural addresses are available elsewhere, but they are conveniently located here with the express purpose of presenting the best resources available on the significant people and events in American political thought and history.

A long list of summer institutes and application materials is provided, but perhaps the audio lectures available via the website in Real Audio or as podcasts are the most useful for a national audience. With the stated goal of "encourag[ing] teachers to seriously examine significant events in American history in light of the principles of the American founding," these classroom lectures cover a range of topics from The Causes of the Civil War to Ideas and Traditions in American Foreign Relations to Calvin Coolidge and the Staid 1920s.


Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University; Mansfield, Ohio; Lorain, Ohio; Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center; Regional Education Service Agency II (Huntington, West Virginia); Alternative Education Academy; Western Buckeye Educational Service Center; Guilford County Schools (Greensboro, North Carolina)

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