The First Branch: Congress and the Constitution guides students on a tour of the legislative branch of the government of the United States. Through primary source analysis and engaging activities, students will examine the purpose of a legislature, the design of the U.S Congress, its powers, its history and the reality of how Congress works today. This curriculum also includes an interactive model Congress project that puts students in the seats of legislators, helping them better appreciate the real challenge of making a bill become a law.




Collection Contents

Legacy of Republicanism

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

The Framers of the Constitution had a rich intellectual foundation and long practical experience with representative legislatures to draw from as they framed the new Constitution and founded a new nation. The Framers at the Constitutional Convention debated the principles of republican government, federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances throughout the summer of 1787. They unanimously agreed that the government would be republican, or representative of the sovereign people, who gave their consent to form a government to protect their natural rights.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

The Nature of Representation in the U.S. Congress

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

The constitutional principles of the American Founding that guided American politics before the Civil War were increasingly altered as a new approach to governance become predominant in the early twentieth century. The rise of an administrative state centralized more power in the hands of federal agencies in the executive branch and which blurred the relationship of the branches of government and their respective constitutional powers. Even though the Constitution specifically granted authority to Congress to regulate interstate commerce in its enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8, Congress increasingly delegated that authority to the executive branch.   
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

The Constitutional Powers of Congress

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

In the early republic, Congress was a colorful, exciting, unpredictable, and contentious branch of the United States government. The members constantly quarreled but often deliberated and compromised through persuasive oratory and rational conversation. Congress was divided by party and sectionalism, but was guided through these difficulties by legislative statesmen. The Congress continued to function as the undisputed law making body of the people of the United States. Even during some of its most tumultuous years, from 1789 until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860, the Congress effectively governed the nation.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

The Commerce Clause and the Expanding Powers of Congress

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

After the Civil War, Congress grew increasingly assertive and also became more concerned with how it organized itself as a legislative body. This period was marked by clashes over the powers of party bosses, the proper role of Speakers of the House, and the influence committees and committee chairs over the progress of legislation.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

The Battle for Balance

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Following the Civil War, the United States would established itself as a world economic power. The promises of freedom and opportunity offered by the United States would attarct many immigrants to the country. These demographic and economic changes created social pressure which lead progressive reformers to advocate for changes to government. During this period, Congress would passed various reform laws, including Constitutional amendments which would fundamentally alter the functioning of Congress. Additonally, Congressional rules would change in such a way that would change the internal working of Congress. This lesson examns this period of congressional history and the impact of these reforms on the legislative process.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

The Balance of Power between the Legislative and Executive Branches

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Congress was designed to be a slow and deliberative body with the intention that it provide stability and place the public interest at the center of its decisions. Over time, however, Congress has changed and become a less deliberative body, focusing more on individual members' interests rather than the interests of the nation as a whole.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

All Legislative Powers Herein Granted

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

This lesson provides the scaffolding for you to conduct a simulation of the United States House of Representatives with your class! They will draft and advocate for legislation, work in committees, and carry out duties of legislative officers, and consider and vote on legislation. Through this experience they will gain a better understanding of how the House of Representatives functions and better appreciate the challenges faced by legislators.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

The Civil War to 1910: The Golden Age of Parties

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

After the Civil War, Congress grew increasingly assertive and also became more concerned with how it organized itself as a legislative body. This period was marked by clashes over the powers of party bosses, the proper role of Speakers of the House, and the influence committees and committee chairs over the progress of legislation.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

Congress in the 20th and 21st Centuries

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Following the Civil War, the United States would established itself as a world economic power. The promises of freedom and opportunity offered by the United States would attarct many immigrants to the country. These demographic and economic changes created social pressure which lead progressive reformers to advocate for changes to government. During this period, Congress would passed various reform laws, including Constitutional amendments which would fundamentally alter the functioning of Congress. Additonally, Congressional rules would change in such a way that would change the internal working of Congress. This lesson examns this period of congressional history and the impact of these reforms on the legislative process.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

Congress in the Modern Era

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Congress was designed to be a slow and deliberative body with the intention that it provide stability and place the public interest at the center of its decisions. Over time, however, Congress has changed and become a less deliberative body, focusing more on individual members' interests rather than the interests of the nation as a whole.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource

Model House of Representatives Project

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

This lesson provides the scaffolding for you to conduct a simulation of the United States House of Representatives with your class! They will draft and advocate for legislation, work in committees, and carry out duties of legislative officers, and consider and vote on legislation. Through this experience they will gain a better understanding of how the House of Representatives functions and better appreciate the challenges faced by legislators.
Member Rating
Curriki RatingP
'P' - This is a trusted Partner resource
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467