Voices Of History by the Bill of Rights Institute

Heroes and Villains

Founders and the Constitution

In this lesson, students will explore the vice of demagoguery in a constitutional republic in this lesson on civic virtue. Students will examine the anti-Communist crusade of Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Cold War in the early 1950s. Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities to weigh whether McCarthy was expressing genuine concerns about Communist subversives or just interested in his own power. Students will examine the effects of demagoguery on a constitutional republic and civil society.
Demagoguery: Joseph McCarthy and Demagoguery - Essay
Discussion Guide
Virtue in Action
Excerpts From Joseph McCarthy's Speech at Wheeling, West Virginia February 9, 1950
Demagoguery Worksheet
Implementation Guide
Defining Civic Virtue
What Is Virtue? – Historical and Philosophical Context
What Is Virtue? – Defining the Term
Clarifying Civic Virtue
Identifying and Defining Civic Virtues
Teacher’s Notes for Launching Heroes & Villains
Heroes & Villains Curricular Planning
Primary Source Activity: Benjamin Franklin and Civic Virtue
Answer Key
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