American Foundations 1609-1790
"The United States was founded on a set of beliefs and not, as were other nations, on a common ethnicity, language or religion. Since we are not a nation in any traditional sense of the term, in order to establish our nationhood, we have to reaffirm and reinforce periodically the values of the men who declared independence from Great Britain and framed the Constitution." - Gordon Wood, Constitutional Scholar Brown University.
The philosophical and historical foundation of the United States.
October 2: The Road to Independence. Follow the journey of how the 13 English Colonies came to declare their independence from England.
October 9: Inventing a Nation. Why did America’s first attempt at a national government,
The Articles of Confederation, fail? How did that failure and a rebellious spirit lead the founders to write a
Constitution and create a new form of government based on law and beliefs rather than religion or monarchy?
October 16: The Legislative Branch. Article I of the Constitution articulates the powers of
the legislature (Congress) and their ability to make laws as well as the history behind terms such as
Habeas Corpus, Ex Post Facto laws and Bills of Attainder. Also, examine the power to tax.
October 23: The Executive Branch. Discuss the powers granted to the chief executive in
Article II of the Constitution, and the seven powers the Presidency has assumed since the ratification of
the constitution? How have the war making powers of the Presidency evolved over time?
October 30: The Judicial Branch. The judiciary is the third co-equal branch of government.
Where does the power of Judicial Review come from? How do the courts operate? How does the Supreme
Court interpret the laws of the United States? Examine Article III of the Constitution and how it has evolved.
November 6: The Bill of Rights and other Amendments
The first 10 amendments are collectively called the Bill of Rights. We’ll cover what they protect and the
difference between your civil liberties and your civil rights. Why were they not included in the original
Constitution and why were they so important that they were among the first items addressed by the
First Congress in 1789?