Our National anthem proclaims us as the, “land of the free and the home of the brave”; yet the man who penned those words, Francis Scott Key, was a slave owner.*

In this course students study the emergence of the United States and its government through the lens of the concept of freedom. The word “freedom” is everywhere you look in the United States throughout history to the present, but how free are we and how free is this country?

We begin by exploring the concept of freedom and what it means to us and others by examining a variety of genres such as essays, poetry, music and visual art and answer the question: what does freedom mean to you and how does your understanding of freedom compare to others? We then examine primary sources from colonial American and the Constitution itself to investigate the progress of political, economic and social freedom that came as a result of the formation of the United States and decide if we think the U.S. Constitution was created to protect or limit freedom. Finally, we delve into some limits to freedom in the United States, using as a case study, “the great contradiction,” American slavery, and respond to the question of who was most influential in ending chattel slavery in the United States. The course culminates in a Social Studies PBAT.

Excerpts of the U.S. Constitution, The Declaration of Independence
Primary source excerpts, including: Stokely Carmichael, Abe Lincoln, James Madison, John Locke, and others
Secondary source excerpts: James McPherson, Howard Zinn, others

Students conduct additional research for two essays in course: Does the U.S. Constitution limit or protect citizens' freedom? and, Who was most influential in ending chattel slavery in the United States?

Interim Assessments: 

Class debates on two PBAT questions, PBAT drafts and deadlines

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Freedom artistic piece and artist statement

Sample PBATs: 
The Constitution: Limits on or guarantee of freedoms?
Was the government established to limit or protect our freedom?
Who freed the slaves?
Did the abolitionists and the slaves give Lincoln the pen for the Emancipation Proclamation