Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress 1789-1791


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Lesson Plans

Introductory lesson

This lesson establishes an understanding of the functions of the First Federal Congress.

Students read the documents in this unit and respond to the questions.

The First Federal Congress

This topic (unit) establishes the responsibilities and expectations for the First Federal Congress. It introduces the role of the FFC in developing our government beyond the Constitution, the aspirations for this government, and the challenges that face the government. This unit would be an opportune place to connect the FFC to the present functioning of Congress through access to C-Span and e-mail questions to local representatives.

Questions to consider:

  • ? What different tasks did the FFC have compared to the fully functioning government of today? What is the purpose of any government?
  • ?How was the FFC a continuation of the work of the Constitutional Convention? (This question assumes that students have studied the Constitutional Convention and have been introduced to what flexibility for the future was built into the relatively brief final document)
  • ?Why was Congress created first and given the task of fleshing out the executive and judiciary? What are the implications of legislative supremacy as a guiding principle?
  • ?In what specific ways were the expectations of the populace demonstrated? How did they voice their hopes and support?
  • ?Look at Robert Morris's letter. What particular challenges does he see that lie ahead? Who does he mean by the interested, ignorant and inconsiderate? Do you think he was correct in his fears then? Today? Demonstration:

Develop a list of the purposes of government you find in the readings.

Develop another list of the challenges that faced this government. (see in particular the Pillar document, the ceremonies, and Morris's letter)


How important was the FFC in establishing the functioning federal government?

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Other Lesson Plans:
Introductory Lesson
Four Approaches with Lessons:
  1. Issue-based Single Lessons
  2. Topic Lessons Based on Selected Documents
  3. Whole Site by Unit
  4. Concept-based Student Application

Vocabulary list

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