The US Constitution: Looking Backward from 2021 to 1787

The US Constitution has been the bedrock of American government since it was first conceived in 1787, but it is far from a rigid document set in a bygone era. The founders designed it to evolve with the nation, and for more than 230 years, Americans have debated and amended the Constitution’s parameters to achieve the goal of “a more perfect union.” This course focuses on key aspects of the Constitution, the government it establishes, the freedoms it gives, and the questions it poses. Key topics include free speech, freedom of and from religion, voting, and cruel and unusual punishment, and how these rights, freedoms, and responsibilities have evolved since the Constitution’s drafting.

Intended Audience

This class is for high school students (grades 9–12). 

CLAsses

Class 1

Attendance Quiz

CLASS RECORDING and RECOMMENDED RESOURCES from Wednesday, March 10, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

Who Are “We the People”?: Examining the Preamble and the Ratification Debate

Class 2

Attendance Quiz

CLASS RECORDING and RECOMMENDED RESOURCES from Wednesday, March 17, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

“Full Faith and Credit”: The Highs and Lows of Article IV with special guest Linda R. Monk, independent scholar, journalist, and nationally award-winning author

Class 3

Attendance Quiz

CLASS RECORDING and RECOMMENDED RESOURCES from Wednesday, March 24, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

James Madison and Freedom of Religion with special guest Dr. Chris Burkett, Associate Professor of Political Science at Ashland University

Class 4

Attendance Quiz

CLASS RECORDING and RECOMMENDED RESOURCES from Wednesday, March 31, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

Is There Such a Thing as “Free” Speech?

Class 5

Attendance Quiz

CLASS RECORDING and RECOMMENDED RESOURCES from Wednesday, April 14, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

What Did the Founders Mean by “a Well-regulated Militia”?: Origins and Intent of the Second Amendment

Class 6

Attendance Quiz

CLASS RECORDING and RECOMMENDED RESOURCES from Wednesday, April 21, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

The “Process” in “Due Process”, Part 1: The Fourth Amendment

Class 7

Attendance Quiz

CLASS RECORDING and RECOMMENDED RESOURCES Wednesday, April 28, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

What Is “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”?: A Focus on the Eighth Amendment

Class 8

Attendance Quiz

CLASS RECORDING and RECOMMENDED RESOURCES Wednesday, May 5, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

The Civil War Amendments

Note: The course did not meet on Wednesday, April 7.

Meet Your Teacher

Kevin Cline teaches United States history and government at Frankton High School in Frankton, Indiana. In 2016 he was named the National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Mr. Cline serves as a Master Teacher for the Gilder Lehrman Institute and does work for the National Center for History Education and the National History Club. Mr. Cline’s passions in teaching include fostering active citizenship and lifting up student voices.

Participation Certificate

Students who get 100% on the attendance quiz can get a certificate from the Gilder Lehrman Institute confirming their attendance in each History School session.

Please email historyschool@gilderlehrman.org with any questions.

 

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