This curriculum is designed to put teachers and students in conversation with those who strove and continue to strive for a greater realization of the promises of liberty and equality as outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
The resource begins with a foundational introduction to natural rights through the Declaration of Independence. Three chronological primary source sets covering the colonial era to the present day allow students to consider how the efforts of law- and policy-makers, the courts, and “We the People” – individuals and groups – have worked to ensure a society faithful to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. A culminating assessment has students choose a topic to research and present to make connections to how the work to ensure a society aligned with Founding principles continues in the present day.
The Declaration of Independence and the Promise of Liberty and Equality for All: Founding Principles and the Problem of Slavery
Students will be introduced to the concept of Founding principles based on natural law and natural rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. They will then analyze primary source documents to determine the extent to which the writing of the Declaration of Independence contributed to the quest to end slavery in the United States in the Founding era.
Slavery and the Struggle for Abolition from the Colonial Period to the Civil War
In this lesson, students will consider how Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice were invoked or ignored in the quest to end slavery. Students will use primary source excerpts to consider the ways in which legislators, courts, and individuals interacted and interpreted these principles in the quest to end slavery from colonial times to the outbreak of the Civil War.