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The Progressive Era

James Madison,Constitution,democracy,property,Fourteenth Amendment,Sixteenth Amendment,suffrage,liberty,Founders,framers,Seventeenth Amendment,tyranny,Nineteenth Amendment,First Amendment,equality,Eighteenth Amendment,federalism

The Progressive Era Activity: Founders vs. Progressives – Take a Stand

On one side of the room, post a sign that says, “Founders.” On the other side of the room, post a “Progressives” sign. Assign students to groups of 3-4. Give each group a random selection of four to six cards taken from the Handout A: Founders vs. Progressives Quote Cards. In their groups, students should read then paraphrase each quotation in their set. Then, they should discuss the ideas expressed in them. To guide discussion, refer to the following questions:

  • What assumptions does the author of this quotation make about human nature?
  • How does this quotation seem to define the purpose of government?
  • How does this quotation characterize the proper relationship between the citizen and government?

Next, read aloud one of the quotations from Handout A. Students whose group had that quotation in their stack should stand closest to the sign that they believe correctly describes the author of that quotation. Once they have “taken their stand,” provide the correct answer. Repeat the process with the remaining quotations. If students go to different walls/signs, initiate a discussion about why each came to his or her own conclusion.

Once all quotations have been read, debrief by conducting a large-group discussion of the Founders’ vs. Progressives’ points of view. Use the questions listed above to guide the discussion.

Post the following two statements. Lead a brief discussion about which idea is more accurate, then have students select one they most support. Assign a one-paragraph response paragraph in which students support their chosen statement.

  • “People are naturally flawed. They can make bad decisions for themselves and even worse ones for other people. That’s why we need checks and balances and strict limits on government power.”
  • “People are naturally good, and can and should be made better through government action.”

The Progressive Era Activity: Amendment Analysis

Critical Question: What assumptions did the Founders and the Progressives make about human nature? What did each believe to be the purpose of government?

Distribute Handout B: Founders vs. Progressives – Amendment Analysis. Students should do a close reading of the amendments in order to answer the related Critical Thinking Questions individually and in writing. After students have written their responses to the questions for both sets of amendments, lead a class discussion of those questions.

In addition to the questions provided on Handout B, ask the following:

  • What assumptions did the authors of these amendments make about human nature?
  • How do these amendments characterize the proper relationship between the citizen and government?