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  • United States Capitol Historical Society
From Freedom’s Shadow
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Freedom for some meant slavery for others. The cruel irony of this nation’s founding and its “Temple of Liberty”—the U.S. Capitol—is that both were made possible by the enslavement of African Americans.

The labor of enslaved and free blacks helped build the Capitol. An enslaved African American man helped to cast the Statue of Freedom, which was placed atop the Dome during the Civil War.

Since the end of the Civil War, African Americans have struggled to move out of the shadows and into the Temple of Liberty as full participants.

This the online version of a traveling exhibit by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society that depicts the journey of African Americans from slavery to freedom and political representation in the U.S. Capitol. The exhibit opened February 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Interactive
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/20/2020
Presidential Inaugurations and The United States Capitol
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On Tuesday, January 20, 2009, the presidential oath of office was administered for the seventieth time, the fifty-eighth such ceremony in a location in Washington, D.C, the fifty-second at the United States Capitol, and the seventh on the west front of the Capitol; but even more historically, for the first time in American history it was taken by an African American.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/13/2020
The United States Constitution: Annotated
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Here we present the Constitution, as it was signed in 1787, along with the 27 Amendments.

How did those at the Constitutional Convention arrive at the compromises included in the document, and how did they try to convince others to support or reject the Constitution? Click on our popup annotations to learn more about the conversations and concerns being discussed at that pivotal time, as addressed by the authors of The Federalist Papers: John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Follow the links to Congress.gov to read the full text.

How has the Constitution been interpreted over the years? Our Supreme Court Ruling annotations provide brief descriptions of landmark decisions that have set the precedent for U.S. policy throughout its history. The links will take you to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, where you can read the original decisions handed down by the court.

Additional popups offer brief histories related to this document, changes that have been made by later amendments, and a list of all the signers along with links to their short biographies!

Direct quotes are italicized and links are in blue.

This Annotated Constitution was conceived by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, researched and written by Joshua Zampetti and Samuel Holliday, and published by Joshua Zampetti. The Clarence J. Brown Graduate Internship provided the funding for Zampetti’s work on this project.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Reading
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/13/2020
We the People Constitution Tour: Teacher Resources and Lessons
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The We the People Teacher Resource Guide was created by D.C. Public School teachers. It contains lesson plans, suggestions for activities that may be done with students, and general resources that will inspire you to create your own activities and projects. You will also find materials such as worksheets and cartoon that you may copy and use with students.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/12/2020
We the People: George Mason
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The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are known as our Bill of Rights, which serve as a guarantee for our freedoms. But these amendments almost didn’t happen. Join a group of middle schoolers on a tour of Washington, D.C. as they learn about the Constitution and what it means to be “We the People.” The “We the People” videos are produced in collaboration with the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Lesson
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/20/2020
We the People: National Archives
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Once a vision for the United States of America, crafted by our founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence is preserved as living proof of our history at the National Archives and Records Administration. Join a group of middle schoolers on a tour of Washington, D.C. as they learn about this document and others and what it means to be “We the People.” The “We the People” videos are produced in collaboration with the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Lesson
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/20/2020
We the People: The White House
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The president of the United States serves as the chief executive and commander of the armed forces, all defined in Article II of the Constitution as the executive branch. Join a group of middle schoolers on a tour of Washington, D.C. as they learn about the Constitution and what it means to be "We the People." The "We the People" videos are produced in collaboration with the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Lesson
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/20/2020
We the People: U.S. Capitol
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Of the three branches of our government, many believe that the most important is the one directly elected by "We the People": the legislative branch, represented by the two houses of the U.S. Congress at the Capitol building. Join a group of middle schoolers on a tour of Washington, D.C. as they learn about the Constitution and what it means to be "We the People." The "We the People" videos are produced in collaboration with the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Lesson
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/20/2020