FREE Resources -- The Constitution

More than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group in 1997 to make hundreds of federally supported teaching and learning resources easier to find. The result of that work is the FREE web site. FREE stands for Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. The web sites listed below are excerpted with permission from the FREE web site. This month, we highlight web sites about the Constitution; in future months, we will feature other subject areas.

United States Constitution includes notes Washington wrote on his copy of the Constitution, his diary at the Constitutional Convention, an essay on Madison's role in the Constitutional Convention, Madison's notes on the debates, Jefferson's letter to Madison expressing his opinions on the new Constitution and his belief that a Bill of Rights was needed, and more. (Library of Congress)

Interactive Constitution lets you search the Constitution and find relevant passages and explanations. Discover how the Constitution relates to more than 300 topics, from civil rights to school prayer, including Supreme Court decisions. (National Constitution Center)

Observing Constitution Day features a discussion about the Constitutional Convention and the Constitution. Lists of delegates, issues involved in the creation and ratification of the document, and its implementation are included. (National Archives and Records Administration)

Constitution Resources features tools for learning about the U.S. Constitution. Meet the 55 delegates who gathered in Philadelphia in May 1787 to rewrite the Articles of Confederation. Learn what issues they faced. Discover the sources that inspired them. Read the essays printed in NYC papers urging ratification of their proposal. Explore a 200-year timeline showing the impact of their work, the Constitution, on our history. Search the Constitution and see explanations of 300 topics. (Department of Education)

Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention Broadsides — American Memory provides 274 documents related to Congress (1774 to 1788) and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Items include the journals of Congress, resolutions, proclamations, committee reports, treaties, and early printed versions of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Among the topics: the armed forces, foreign relations, Indians, land settlement, laws, money, and pirates. (Library of Congress)

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation, U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873 — American Memory includes documents from the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention and ratification debates, and the first two federal congresses. These documents record American history in the words of those who built our government. (Library of Congress)

In Congress Assembled: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States — Lesson, Learning Page provides lesson plans on the Constitution, Bill of Rights, issues that confronted the first Congress, and broadsides from the Continental Congress calling for special days of thanksgiving and remembrance. (Library of Congress)

Centuries of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline is an interactive timeline of events marking more than 200 years of our constitutional history. These events tell the evolving story of our Constitution and the role it continues to play in our lives. See headlines, hear debates, explore maps and graphs. (National Constitution Center)

Constitutional Issues: Watergate and the Constitution examines Constitutional issues surrounding the resignation of President Nixon and looks at the specific question: Should the Watergate Special Prosecutor seek an indictment of the former President? (National Archives and Records Administration)

We the People... The Citizen and the Constitution helps elementary and secondary school students understand the history and principles of our constitutional government. The program focuses on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and fosters civic competence and responsibility. Upon completion of program, classes are encouraged to participate in simulated congressional hearings that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (Center for Civic Education, supported by Department of Education)

James Madison Papers — American Memory includes 12,000 letters, notes, legislation, and other documents from the man considered the Father of the Constitution. These documents (1723-1836), including an autobiography, help illuminate Madison’s pivotal role in the Constitutional Convention as well as his nine years in the House of Representatives, his tenure as Secretary of State, and his two terms as our fourth President. Essays discuss Madison's life and his role at the Constitutional Convention. (Library of Congress)

Constitution Toolkit includes images of newspaper articles (1787), notes Washington and Jefferson wrote on drafts of the Constitution (1787-88), Jefferson’s chart of state votes (1788), Washington's diaries (1786-89), Hamilton's speech notes for proposing a plan of government, a Philadelphia map (1752), the "broadside" Bill of Rights (1791), and other artifacts. (Library of Congress)

Constitution of the U.S. recounts how the Constitution was created and ratified. Learn about the Bill of Rights. Read biographies of the Founding Fathers — the 55 delegates who gathered in Philadelphia (May 1787) to revise the Articles of Confederation but ended up drafting an entirely new plan of government. (National Archives and Records Administration)

National Constitution Center includes lessons on the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, electoral process, executive branch, separation of powers, war making, freedom of speech, Founding Fathers, and suffrage. "Teaching with Current Events" features news stories related to the Constitution, discussion starters for current events, and differing perspectives by commentators and elected officials. (National Constitution Center)

The Constitution: Counter Revolution or National Salvation? — Lesson, Learning Page casts students in the role of politically active citizens in 1787, when the Federal Convention in Philadelphia presented the nation with a new model of government. Students, using primary documents from American Memory, produce a broadside in which they argue for or against replacing the Articles of Confederation with the new model — the Constitution. (Library of Congress)