We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3
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Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
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Lesson 1 Purpose
This lesson introduces the basic ideas and experiences the founding generation drew on to create the kind of government they believed would best protect the natural rights of individuals and promote the common good. Classical Greek and Roman writers, natural rights philosophy, the Bible, Protestant theology, ancient and modern European history, and the Enlightenment in Europe and America were among the sources of the ideas that influenced the Founders. The Founders also participated in self-government in the American colonies before 1776 and in state and local governments after independence from Great Britain. The Founders' ideas about society and government and their experiences were diverse. The colonies differed widely. This diversity fostered a rich dialogue about the purpose of government and how it should be organized.

When you have finished this lesson, you should be able to describe the diverse features of the early American colonies and states and their populations. You should be able to explain what the Founders learned about government from history and their firsthand experiences of government. How did this knowledge shape their thinking? You should be able to explain the meanings of the terms constitution and constitutional government and describe the forms of constitutional governments. Finally, you should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on the sources that should be consulted if a new constitution for the United States were being written today, whether the Founders' concerns about abuse of government power are still valid today, and the importance of written constitutions. Audio ]
Lesson 1      What Did the Founders Think about Constitutional Government?
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