What I Learned Today, 2/5/13

Guest post by Teddy S.

I learned that for about 443 years the Iroquois confederacy is still alive ! They started out in 1570 in Northern America  and is still going on today. Also, I learned that during Shay’s Rebellion 2,000 angry farmers stormed the court to get their weapons.

Thanks, Teddy, but let’s add a little more!

When our founders met in 1787 to create a constitution, they saw this time as a rare moment to create a perfect government. Many of these founders had been a part of the Revolutionary War or one of the Congresses that created a number of laws. Experience taught them a great deal. Education helped the framers learn about the best governments in the world. So, 6 major influences became critical in the shaping of the Constitution:

  1. Roman Empire: they were the greatest empire known to man, at this time. How did they become so powerful? How was such a large empire efficiently controlled? How did people participate?
  2. British Empire: a number of democratic principles are exemplified in the 700 years of British rule. How did the political ancestors of Americans create such a long-lasting and relatively peaceful government? Yet, how can we prevent another King George III from usurping the rights of the people?
  3. Iroquois Confederacy: a group of diverse Natives which kept peace by settling disputes among themselves. How did they do it so effectively?
  4. Early American Experience: this isn’t the first time Americans have set out to create their own government. How did the colonists establish rule and law to build the colonies into what they are today? What lessons can we learn from our own prior successes?
  5. Articles of Confederation: our first government is a failure, and the reason for the Convention. What did we get right? Again, what lessons can we learn from our own failures?
  6. Enlightenment: what are the best ideas being written about today? A wave of modern philosophy is built on the wise words of the past, but also offers radical and creative ideas that a new government could put in place? With very little heritage to limit them, the founders looked to Europeans for new ideas to inspire their new government.

Like the founders, we studied each of the groups and looked into their stories. How can we find influences and ideas among the ruins of history?

Here’s the worksheet we used to divide and share our findings.

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