The Constitution in Action: Republic or Democracy?

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History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This lesson places students at the First Federal Congress and asks them to consider whether citizens have the right to instruct their elected representatives on how to vote. This gets to the very heart of what our government is all about. Should we have a republic—a representative government in which elected leaders are free to deliberate and decide on their own—or a democracy, in which representatives follow the lead of their constituents? Students will engage with this question twice: first, as members of the First Federal Congress, not knowing anything about later events, and second, as modern citizens, taking into account partisan gridlock, media (print, broadcast, social media, and Internet news), and the infusion of money into the political arena. 

Lesson Plan Resources

Lesson tags: 
Advanced Placement (AP)
Creative Commons License: 
Attribution Non-commercial ShareAlike CC (BY-NC-SA)