Founding Fathers

  • Constitution Role Play: Whose “More Perfect Union”? and The Constitutional Convention: Who Really Won? by Bill Bigelow for the Zinn Education Project
    The U.S. Constitution endorsed slavery and favored the interests of the owning classes. What kind of Constitution would have resulted from founders who were representative of the entire country? That is the question addressed in this role play activity.
  • The Counter Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America by Gerald Horne
    For European colonists, the major threat to security in North America was a foreign invasion combined with an insurrection of the enslaved. And as 1776 approached, London-imposed abolition throughout the colonies was a very real and threatening possibility—a possibility the founding fathers feared could bring the slave rebellions of Jamaica and Antigua to the thirteen colonies. In this book, the author shows how the so-called Revolutionary War was in large part a conservative movement that the founding fathers fought in order to preserve their liberty to enslave others—and which today takes the form of a racialized conservatism and a persistent racism targeting the descendants of the enslaved.
  • Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past by Ray Raphael
    This book revisits the original myths of the Founders and further explores their evolution over time, uncovering new stories and peeling back new layers of misinformation. This new edition also examines the highly politicized debates over America’s past, as well as how our approach to history in school reinforces rather than corrects historical mistakes. Raphael also wrote The First American Revolution and A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence.
  • Missing From President’s Day: The People They Enslaved by Clarence Lusane for the Zinn Education Project
    For many Americans, it is subversive to criticize the nation’s founders, the founding documents, the presidency, the president’s house, and other institutions that have come to symbolize the official story of the United States. This article acknowledges that it may be uncomfortable to give up long-held and even meaningful beliefs that in many ways build both collective and personal identities, but shows how erasing enslaved African Americans from the White House and the presidency presents a false portrait of U.S. history.
  • More Than Slaves: Black Founders, Benjamin Banneker, and Critical Intellectual Agency by LaGarrett King for Social Studies Research and Practice
    This article focuses one Black Founder, Benjamin Banneker, and his letter to Thomas Jefferson to illustrate how Black Founders philosophically responded and challenged White Founders' prejudicial beliefs about Blackness. It challenges social studies teachers’ curricular and pedagogical approaches to Black Americans during the colonial period by providing tools to explore the voices of Black Americans in U.S. history.
  • Mythbusting the Founding Mothers from the National Women’s History Museum
    We all can picture the Founding Fathers, gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, debating what to do about tyrannical Britain, and finally signing their names onto the Declaration of Independence. But what about the Founding Mothers? This explores some of the women in 18th-century America who are largely forgotten.
  • Native American Societies and the Evolution of Democracy, 1600-1800 by Bruce E. Johnston for Ethnohistory
    This article examines how Native political organizations helped shape the thinking of Europeans as they became Americans.
  • “The Room Where It Happens”: Using the “Great/Not So Great” Framework for Evaluating the Founders in Lower Elementary Social Studies by Scott L. Roberts, Stephanie L. Strachan, & Meghan K. Block for the Oregon Journal of the Social Studies
    This article provides an inquiry-based framework to help elementary-level students learn about differences in opinions about historical figures before constructing their own evaluation fo these figures based on textual evidence.
  • Thomas Jefferson, Slavery, and the Language of the Textbook: Addressing Problematic Representations of Race and Power by Sarah Thomson for the Language Arts Journal of Michigan
    This paper compares the language features of two different texts on the topic of Thomas Jefferson and enslavement, and considers how these texts present historical knowledge differently through their language choices.
  • Visiting Chutchui: The Making of A Colonial Counterstory On An Elementary FIeld Trip by Harper Keenan
    What might the content and design of an Indigenous colonial counterstory look like in teaching young children about colonial history? What might an
    Indigenous counterstory offer to children’s historical learning in the U.S. context? Findings suggest that such a counterstory, presented
    concretely as a different way of looking at a place, may provide generative possibilities for authentic engagement with conflicting sources of historical knowledge.
  • West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 by Claudio Saunt
    This book looks beyond the familiar story of the thirteen colonies to explore the many other revolutions roiling the turbulent American continent in 1776: the Spanish landing in San Francisco, the Russians pushing into Alaska, and the Sioux discovering the Black Hills.