Suggested Websites

Doing History: How the Words of the Scholar and Popular Historian Come Together
If you want to learn a bit about Carol Berkin read this essay she wrote for Common Place about “about how her approach to scholarship and teaching changed as she became involved in public history.”

The Constitutional Convention
"The fundamental difficulty facing teachers and students of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 is how to make sense of the vast and complex material. "1. How do you teach the Convention? Is there really a coherent conversation taking place or is there just a random set of utterances? 2. How do you keep the students connected with the arguments that often change during the course of four months? This is a visual generation rather than a textual generation." Check out this Teaching American History website for a twelve-step guide to understanding the Constitutional Convention.

U.S. Constitution, Best of History Sites
This website provides an annotated list of websites all about the United States Constitution.

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention
This site, part of the American Memory collection of the Library of Congress provides over 200 documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution.

National Endowment for the Humanities Constitution Day Resources
This extensive site contains documents, links, textual and visual information all related to the United States Constitution.

A Mock Constitutional Convention
Interesting site with everything you need to hold a mock Constitutional Convention in your classroom.

We Were There: WebQuest on the Constitutional Convention
Interesting site with a series of assignments designed to have students be reporters covering the Constitutional Convention.

America's Founding Fathers: Delegates to the Constitutional Convention
An interactive website from the National Archives Charters of Freedom. Contains images and biographies of the delegates.

"Teaching the Revolution" by Carol Berkin from History Now, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Brief, but insightful essay by Carol Berkin on how to teach about the American Revolution. Be sure to check out the truly superb interactive Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History website while you are there:

Constitution Day - 10 Books, 10 Facts & 1 Video About the American Constitution

Neat site with ten books, ten facts and a fun School House Rocks cartoon on the Constitution. (Watch it-you’ll laugh!)

The Constitutional Convention: What the Founding Fathers Said
Constitutional Convention website with lesson plans geared to grades 6 – 8. From the site’s introduction: “In the course of over two centuries since the nation's founding, the Constitution of the United States has become an iconic document for many Americans, who may with difficulty imagine real people piecing it together detail by painstaking detail through meetings, discussions, committee work, and compromise. Yet we have good records of those proceedings. By means of such records, among them James Madison's extensive notes, we can witness the unfolding drama of the Constitutional Convention and the contributions of those whom we have come to know as the Founding Fathers: Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and others who played major roles in founding a new nation.”

The Constitutional Convention of 1787
Constitutional Convention website with lesson plans geared to grades 9 – 12. From the site’s introduction: On the last day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin observed that he had often wondered whether the design on the president's chair depicted a rising or a setting sun. "Now at length," he remarked, "I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun." Franklin's optimism came only after many months of debate and argumentation over the form of government that would best secure the future safety and happiness of the young American republic. At times it seemed that the Convention would fail as a result of seemingly irreconcilable views between the delegates, especially on the questions of selecting representatives to Congress, the relationship of the national and state governments, and the powers of the president. After a month of deadlock over the issue of representation, Franklin himself had called for a prayer because "mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom."

Constitutional Topic: The U.S. Constitution
Site organized by several topic areas the Convention dealt with, including "the problem of slavery."

Book Resources
Finkelman, Paul. Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson. 2nd Edition. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.

"In this significant revision of his acclaimed work, Paul Finkelman places the problem of slavery in the context of early American politics and the making of the Constitution. He argues that slavery was a bone of contention from the first days of the Constitutional Convention to the last, and demonstrates persuasively that the debate on slavery in national politics and the problem of fugitive slaves predated the antebellum period. Finkelman looks unblinkingly at the ways that the founders failed to resolve the fundamental contradiction between the notion that "All men are created equal" and their own personal and political involvement in slavery. In particular, Finkelman examines the case of Thomas Jefferson: how his personal beliefs made it impossible for him to come to terms with slavery. In a new chapter, Finkelman argues that the Federalists, long regarded as aristocrats, were actually a strong force for emancipation. Clear, concise, and at times controversial, Slavery and the Founders is a valuable contribution to the study of early America and the ways in which race has been at the very heart of a national dilemma from the beginning."

Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967.

Berkin, Carol. A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution. New York: Harcourt, 2002.

Bowen, Catherine Drinker. Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September 1787. Boston: Back Bay Books, 1986.

Carey, George W. The Federalist: Design for a Constitutional Republic. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

Ellis, Joseph. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. New York: Knopf, 2000.

Ferling, John. A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Leibiger, Stuart. Founding Friendship: George Washington, James Madison, and the Creation of the American Republic. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001.

McCullough, David. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

McDonald, Forrest. Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1985.

Morgan, Edmund S. The Birth of the Republic 1763-89. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.
Rakove, Jack. Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. New York: Knopf, 1996.

Wood, Gordon. The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Wood, Gordon. Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789 – 1815. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.