Wednesday, Oct. 18 - Civics - US Government

Objective: Understand that several historical documents helped determine the government of the United States.

The original 13 colonies were Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Bay Colony, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.


The Declaration of Independence

In the spring of 1776, many American colonists wanted independence from England. The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies in America which united in the American Revolutionary War. They wanted a document to explain why colonists were rejecting British rule and establishing their own government. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Congress approved it on July 4, 1776.


The Virginia Declaration of Rights

This was written by George Mason and adopted in June 1776. It outlines the rights of people of Virginia and set the plan for Virginia’s government. 

Both of these documents said that all people have certain freedoms and rights, including the right to govern themselves.


The Magna Carta

The idea of limited government that is not all-powerful and that people have certain rights that the government cannot take away was first set down in England in 1215. This document – the Magna Carta 00 was the first step in limiting the English monarch and the Constitution is heavily based on this.


The U.S. Constitution

After the failed Articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution – written in 1787 – established the structure of the government. It has three parts: the preamble, the articles and the amendments.

The Preamble introduces the Constitution and describes the general purpose of the government.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

After the preamble are seven articles that describe the structure of the government, define the government’s powers and responsibilities and explain what is the power of the national government and what is the power of the states,

The amendments allow the Constitution to be changed. The first 10 amendments are the Bill of Rights – that protects the rights of citizens.