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Federalist/Anti-Federalist Debate on Congress’s Powers of Taxation DBQ

65 min
  • Students will systematically analyze primary sources by answering targeted sourcing and comprehension questions for each document.
  • Students will articulate the main arguments over the power of taxation used in the Federalist/Anti-Federalist debate by writing a thesis statement that responds to the following prompt: Evaluate the arguments for and against entrusting a national legislature with the power of taxation.

This DBQ builds on skills used in analyzing documents in the Benjamin Franklin: The First American? DBQ in the previous unit by including targeted questions for each document. Six documents are used in this DBQ with the goal of working students up to interpreting seven documents that mimic the AP Exam format in future DBQ lessons. Teachers may choose to use the provided questions as scaffolds for students or remove them, as best suits their teaching situation. The documents may be used in isolation or in combinations as the teacher sees fit.

Instruct students to consider the warm-up questions on the student handout. Students may write down their answers, brainstorm with a partner, or conduct a brief discussion on each question.

1. In creating a budget for yourself, what are your top priorities? (Answers will vary but may include phone, clothes, friends, gas/car, girlfriend/boyfriend, helping family, and so forth).

2. If you were responsible not only for yourself but for running a country, what would your top priorities be for your budget? (Answers will vary but may education, health care, defense/military, energy, transportation, and so forth)

3. How would you convince others that these causes are worth paying for? Answers will vary.

Have students read the introduction paragraph or read aloud with them to set up the DBQ exercise.

1. Have students work individually or in groups as best suits your teaching situation to read the following documents and answer the comprehension and sourcing questions as they go along.

2. Redirect students to the prompt: Evaluate the arguments for and against entrusting a national legislature with the power of taxation. Have students work individually to use highlighters to mark evidence in the documents provided, indicating support for the position they choose. Next, have students complete the last step in the packet to construct a thesis statement individually or in groups, as best suits your teaching situation.

Solicit volunteers to share their thesis and workshop several using the following questions:

  • Does the thesis answer the question without simply restating the prompt?
  • Does the thesis make sense?
  • Is the thesis historically accurate?
  • Does the thesis provide clear and cohesive reasoning?
  • Is the thesis supported by evidence from the documents?
  • Is the thesis supported by evidence on the topic outside of the documents (your own background knowledge of the Federalist/Anti-Federalist debate and ratification of the Constitution)?