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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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President Roosevelt Seeks Feedback on New Deal Programs

In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent this letter to clergymen around the country. He received over 100,000 responses from priests, rabbis, and ministers serving diverse congregations that varied by geography, size, religious views, and [...]

Differing Federal Responses to the Great Depression: Letter Analysis

In this activity students read two letters (one from Hoover, one from FDR) to determine different political beliefs that guided the presidents in their responses to the Great Depression.

A Radical Patriot Urges "Common Sense and a Plain Understanding" in the Pennsylvania Constitution (with text supports)

In 1776 Pennsylvania organized a convention to write a new state constitution. James Cannon, a radical patriot leader, advised Pennsylvania militia members to be sure to select delegates to this convention who would respect the rights and authority [...]

Massachusetts Anti-Federalists Oppose the Three-Fifths Compromise

The ratification of the United States Constitution was the subject of intense debate between 1787 and 1789. One particularly controversial issue was the Three Fifths Compromise, which settled how enslaved people would be counted for purposes of [...]

A Fight Breaks Out Among Early Congressmen

The early Congress was an occasionally volatile experiment in Democracy, as this somewhat crude 1798 cartoon demonstrates. On February 15 of that year, an insult uttered by Rep. Roger Griswold of Connecticut directed to Rep. Matthew Lyon of Vermont [...]

A Senator Calls for a More Democratic Immigration System

In the midst of debating the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which concerned the rights of all Americans, regardless of race, to become citizens and vote, Senator Charles Sumner often urged more liberal and democratic application of the law. In [...]

The Evolution of the Preamble

This short activity helps students compare two drafts of the Preamble to the United States Constitution. It contains scaffolds for low-level readers.

The United States Bars Chinese Immigrants

The Chinese Exclusion Act, passed on May 6, 1882, was the first major restriction placed on immigration in the U.S., and the only immigration law that explicitly barred a specific group from entering the country. The Exclusion Act forbade Chinese [...]

The Preamble of the United States Constitution

The Preamble to the United States Constitution went through at least two drafts. The first draft and the final draft are included here.

Graph of Federal Spending (in millions of dollars), 1929-1945

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt entered office in 1933, unemployment hovered around 25%. The private sector, including factories and service industries, remained mired in an intractable depression: no one was spending money and no one was [...]