Is Democracy Still Alive in the United States?

Brad Baker , U.S. History, W.A. Hough HS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


Unit topic will cover the development of the United States government with the emphasis on the focus of democratic ideals of the citizens of the United States. My unit will trace the steps of how we became a democratic nation. From the American Revolution to the failures of the Articles of Confederation to the writing of the Constitution and beyond. What worked? What didn’t? How did the founders come to the agreements of how our country’s government will operate? Did the United States form a true democracy? We will focus on the development of the Articles of Confederation, which was written in part to maintain the independence and sovereignty of the states, but had weaknesses that created a very weak central government, which led to its downfall after Shay’s Rebellion. Shay’s Rebellion convinced the founders that the first constitution was too weak to maintain a Republic and a new constitution must be written. The new Constitution provided for a more stable, stronger federal government by establishing a chief executive, federal courts, and taxing powers, and by including as its first three words “We the People” thus affirming that the government’s purpose will be to serve the citizens of the United States. We will discuss the compromises and influences of creating the new Constitution. We will discuss the philosophies of government that influenced the Founders, such as John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, and the similarities of the English Parliament to the creation of the House of Representatives and Senate in the United States.

The unit will focus on the development and change over time of democracy in America. A large focus will be discussing whether the democracy of today is what the Founding Fathers had in mind for America when it was developed, and if not, what is it? The unit will also focus on how democracy was developed and what influenced the creation of democracy in the United States. The unit will focus on the purpose of a democratic government: protecting rights, promoting rule of law, preparing for common defense, providing public services, and supporting the economic system. Students will be responsible for debating whether these four purposes of a democratic government are true, if changes need to be made, and what is working versus what is not working for our country.