- ›› Coverage People : Thomas Jefferson
This unit is part of Gilder Lehrman’s series of Common Core State Standards–based teaching resources. These units were developed to enable students to understand, summarize, and analyze original texts of historical significance. Through a step-by-step process, students will acquire the skills to analyze any primary or secondary source material.
Over the course of three lessons the students will analyze text from three documents defining American democracy: the Preamble to the United States Constitution, the...
President Thomas Jefferson believed that the United States should be a nation of independent farmers. When France offered to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803, Jefferson wanted to seize the opportunity to double the size of the nation and to provide future generations with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of new farmland. But Jefferson was a strict constructionist—he believed that the federal government had no powers other than those specifically listed in the Constitution—and the Constitution did...
Thomas Jefferson has often been called a “Renaissance man,” someone who is talented in many areas. The term is often used to describe the Italian painter Leonardo Da Vinci, who not only painted the Mona Lisa, but who also made important contributions to sculpture, astronomy, physiology, architecture, and many other fields. Jefferson is well known for his contributions to American politics and government; this lesson allows students to explore some of his other talents.Materials ...
Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts He has made His peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.
—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1787Reading 2
While we have land to labour then, let us never wish to see our citizens occupied at a workbench, or twirling a distaff . Carpenters, masons, smiths, are wanting in husbandry: but, for the general operations of manufacture, let our workshops remain in...
After months of battling and compromises, the US Constitution was finally sent to Congress by the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787. Through the ratification process and the first decade under the new government, America was embroiled in heated arguments over exactly how the government would work and what powers it could really exercise. Political parties soon developed as groups argued about the direction of the country. Alexander Hamilton became a leading voice of the Federalists who believed that the...
These lawyers, and men of learning, and moneyed men, that talk so finely, and gloss over matters so smoothly, to make us poor illiterate people swallow down the pill, expect to get into Congress themselves . . . and then they will swallow up all us little folks, like the great Leviathan.
Amos Singletary, Delegate to the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788 (Source: Elliot, Jonathan, ed. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution...
I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
Abigail Adams to John Adams, March 31, 1776Reading 2