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How can we effectively address the issues facing our nation and create a stronger governing document?
The year is 1787. Just a few years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The newly created Unites States is teetering on the edge of collapse. The Articles of Confederation, the first attempt to organize this new country, has proven to be too weak and filled with flaws to properly hold this young nation together. It is tearing apart at the seams.
In this project, you and your classmates will recreate the Constitutional Convention of 1787. You will take on the personalities of the men who were called to save this great country from ruin, and you will discuss and debate the very same issues that were being discussed in a cramped room in Philadelphia.
The goal of this simulation is to faithfully represent your historical figure and enter into debate with your fellow classmates over three critical issues facing the young United States—states’ rights vs. national authority, representation, and slavery. You will work for compromise on those issues and draft solutions. Once all three issues have been solved in the simulation, we will contrast and compare how the real Convention debated and solved those issues. This will provide us with a deeper understanding of the mountain our ‘Founding Fathers’ had to climb in order to establish a republic that would last for all time.
Biographical Essay on Historical Figure: The first assignment will be a 1.5 – to 2-page (double-spaced) biography of your historical figure.
Critical Issues Questionnaire: Once you have completed the biography, use the information to answer the ‘Critical Issues Questionnaire’ based on how your historical figure would have answered them.
Step # 3
Convention Simulation (This assignment is annotated below.): Finally, once all the preparation work has been completed, we will begin the simulation. You will be expected to faithfully represent your historical figure in each debate, which means you must be fully prepared and confident in you figure’s position of the three critical issues.
Reflection: After we complete the Convention Simulation, we will return to our text and learn about how the delegates actually dealt with the three critical issues in 1787.
Constitutional Convention Debates
The day has arrived for our Constitutional Convention!
Be sure to have your biography and the Three Critical Issues document available to you as you will need to reference these materials throughout the debate.
The Convention will be split into three separate debates, each involving one of the Critical Issues. Each debate will follow the procedure outlined below:
- The first five minutes of the debate will be a Speakers List debate, during which you must raise your placard and be called on in order to speak.
- You may not speak out of turn!
- The purpose of this session is to state your opinion on the Critical Issue and recognize delegates who may be your ally.
- The Speakers List debate will be followed by three minutes of Unmoderated Debate and Resolution Writing during which you may approach delegates you feel will agree with your stance on the Critical Issue and draft solutions to the Critical Issue.
- Finally, we will enter three to five minutes of Resolution Debate during which delegates will put forth their resolutions.
The last step of each debate will be to vote on the resolutions. The resolution that receives the majority of the vote will be the one selected to enter into our “Constitution”.