Skip to Main Content

Unit 6 Civics Connection: The Role of Government According to the Founders and the Progressives

60 min
  • Students will analyze competing approaches related to the proper role and scope of government by analyzing primary sources from the Founding and Progressive Eras.
  • Students will practice writing a comparative LEQ.

If this is the first time your students have considered constitutional principles, have them begin by focusing specifically on limited government, separation of powers, and consent. Use the Principles and Virtues Glossary included with this lesson as a point of departure.

Ask students to turn to one another in small groups and list some examples of government regulations on their lives. After giving students a few minutes to discuss the question, call for their responses and write on the board a few examples they mention. They may list laws or regulations related to speed limits, minimum wage, compulsory school attendance, building codes, municipal zoning, food service in restaurants, licensing of child-care facilities, and others. Briefly discuss: what assumptions about the role of government are reflected in these regulations?

Instruct students to read the Background Essay and answer the accompanying questions included in Handout A: Background Essay. Discuss student answers or collect responses as best fits your classroom. Alternatively, this reading can be assigned as homework to allow more time in class for discussion on the quotations and the concluding writing activity.

Distribute Handout B: Graphic Organizer: The Role of Government. Model the completion of the graphic organizer by talking through the first completed example from James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 47 (1788). Note that sources have not been included in the student version of the organizer but are completed in the instructor answer guide.

Lead a brief discussion on the analysis questions or collect students’ responses, as best fits your classroom.

Have students write a comparative essay addressing the following prompt: Compare the views of the Founders and Progressives on the proper role of government. Assess student responses using the AP LEQ Rubric.

Related Resources