Preamble Web Activity

 Source: Ms Chi Ann Lin, Staples High School Westport, CT

 

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 

Directions:  The purpose of this web activity is to examine the meaning and significance of the various phrases in the Preamble to the Constitution.  Follow the provided links to complete the questions.  Paste the following document into Word, type your answers, save it and print out a copy of the completed activity at home.

 

#1:  “Establish Justice”

Source:  Harper vs. Virginia Board of Elections (1966)

 

  1. Define poll tax.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What are the pros and cons of establishing a poll tax?

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Discuss the significance of the 14th Amendment to this case.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What was the Supreme Court’s final decision (as explained in the majority opinion of the court)?  What was their reasoning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 #2:  “Insure Domestic Tranquility”

Source:  Burson vs. Freeman (1992)

 

  1. Discuss the significance of the 1st Amendment to this case.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What was the Supreme Court’s final decision (as explained in the majority opinion of the court)?  What was their reasoning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. How does the government “insure domestic tranquility” today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3:  “Provide for the Common Defense”

Source:  FDR’s address to Congress (December 8, 1941)

 

  1. How does FDR’s address illustrate the American ideal of “providing for the common defense”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Why did FDR have to ask Congress to declare war? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  Posters

 

  1. How do these posters illustrate the American ideal of “providing for the common defense”?

 

 

 

 

 

  1. How does our government “provide for the common defense” today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4:  “Promote the General Welfare”

Source:  Upton Sinclair’s Letter to President Theodore Roosevelt (March 10, 1906)

              Excerpt from The Jungle (1906)

 

  1. In what ways did Sinclair, as a writer, attempt to “promote the general welfare” of the American public?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What else does the government do to “promote the general welfare”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5:  “Secure the Blessing of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity”

Source:  Wisconsin vs. Yoder (1972)

 

  1. Discuss both sides of the case.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What was the Supreme Court’s final decision (as explained in the majority opinion of the court)?  What was their reasoning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  15th Amendment Poster (1870)

 

  1. What does the 15th Amendment state?

 

 

 

 

 

  1. How do the various scenes depicted on the poster celebrate the passage of this amendment?