The time: October 1787
The place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The question at hand: Should the Constitution of the United States be ratified, or should the U.S. continue under its present government, the Articles of Confederation?
Federalist and Anti-Federalist leaders from many states (aka ICS AP US History students) have assembled (virtually) to discuss their beliefs and air their complaints, with the help of Debate Moderator George Washington (aka Mrs. Montgomery.)
On Tuesday, September 22, Mrs. Montgomery's AP US History students held a virtual Constitutional Ratification debate. Each student researched an historical figure and donned their perspective during the debate. Before coming to class, students used one primary source and two secondary sources to identify their character as Federalist or Anti-Federalist, learn about the geography, economy, population, and social structure of the states their characters represented, identify the characters' occupation and socio-economic background, determine whether their characters attended the Constitutional Convention, and if so, what role did they play and how did they vote. Students learned about their characters' main arguments for or against ratification and then represented this perspective in a lively and passionate debate.
This debate gave students a chance to learn about the various roles of people who influenced the debate over Constitutional ratification in a deep, meaningful way. The debate included everyone from Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson to Mercy Otis Warren and Benjamin Rush, giving students an opportunity to see that not all agreements and disagreements created clear divisions and that there were opportunities for compromise even where none might seem likely. By engaging with these historical figures through their peers’ personification, they were also able to cement connections in their long term memory and often even develop empathy for people on all sides on an issue. These skills will not only benefit the students' AP US History studies, but provide value beyond the classroom as well.