History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the Early Republic and asks them to engage with questions of Constitutional interpretation faced by President Washington and the First Federal Congress. Did the Constitution empower Congress to charter a national bank? Finance and maintain lighthouses? Regulate working conditions of merchant seamen? Support higher education? Promote scientific inquiry? By confronting a variety of issues, not merely the national bank controversy, students can see that balancing the “necessary and proper” clause of the Constitution with the Tenth Amendment’s declaration of reserved powers to the states is no easy matter, and that the founding generation split on the issue multiple times, as we do today.
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