U.S. Government Web Sites

THOMAS — U.S. Congress on the Internet (Library of Congress)
An invaluable source of congressional documents

A Century of Lawmaking (Library of Congress)
An invaluable site for primary source Congressional documents.

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention (Library of Congress)
Has many primary sources useful for research projects

NARA Exhibit Hall: The Charters of Freedom
The National Archives offers a copy of the U.S. Constitution and biographies of the document’s fifty-five framers. The article “A More Perfect Union” is an in-depth look at the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process. “Questions and Answers Pertaining to the Constitution” presents dozens of fascinating facts about the Constitution.

The Avalon Project: The American Constitution – A Documentary Record
The Yale Law school offers documents on The Roots of the Constitution, Revolution and Independence, Credentials of the Members of the Federal Convention, The Constitutional Convention, and Ratification and Formation of the Government.

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids
This site by the U.S. Government Printing Office teaches K-12 students how the U.S. government works. There are resources for teachers and parents as well.

The American President: An Online Reference Resource

This website is geared toward teaching the history of the American presidency, primarily to high school students, and contains detailed biographies of each president.

The Constitution Society
The Constitution Society is a private non-profit organization dedicated to research and public education on the principles of constitutional republican government. It publishes documentation, engages in litigation, and organizes local citizens groups to work for reform. It offers a Liberty Library of Constitutional Classics, a Constitutional Weblog, and a Constitutional Examination

Bill of Rights in Action
This is the online archive of Bill of Rights in Action, Constitutional Rights Foundation’s curricular newsletter. Constitutional Rights Foundation seeks to instill in American youth a deeper understanding of citizenship through values expressed in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and to educate them to become active and responsible participants in American society. Each edition has a lesson (reading, discussion questions, and interactive activity) on U.S. history, world history, and a current issue and lessons are balanced to present various viewpoints. Bill of Rights in Action has been published for more than 30 years and the Constitutional Rights Foundation has archived about 10 years of the newsletter.

FindLaw: Supreme Court Opinions
Provides full texts of Supreme Court decisions since 1893

Oyez Supreme Court Multimedia Database (Northwestern)
An excellent database of court decisions from Northwestern university that includes case studies, a search function, profiles of justices and a virtual tour of the Supreme Court building

In Congress Assembled: Continuity & Change in the Governing of the U.S.
This unit includes four lessons using primary sources to examine continuity and change in the governing of the United States. Lessons one and two are focused on a study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and provide access to primary source documents from the Library of Congress. Lesson three investigates important issues which confronted the first Congress and has students examine current congressional debate over similar issues. Lesson four features broadsides from the Continental Congress calling for special days of thanksgiving and remembrance. The first three lessons are intended for middle and high school students. Lesson four provides a historical context for elementary school lessons that focus on celebrating national holidays.

Famous Trials
A professor of law at the University of Minnesota-Kansas City Law School has created a website on famous trials that include: the Salem Witchcraft Trials (1692), Amistad Trials (1839-40), Andrew Johnson Impeachment Trial (1868), Susan Anthony Trial (1873), Sacco-Vanzetti Trial (1921), Scopes Monkey Trial (1925), Scottsboro Trials (1931-37), Nuremberg Trials (1945-49), Rosenberg Trial (1951), Mississippi Burning Trial (1967), Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial (1969-70) and the My Lai Court Martial (1970). Most of these include background information on the case, biographies and photographs of trial participants, trial transcript excerpt and articles from newspapers that covered the trial.

Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides, Activities, and more

In Congress Assembled: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States
This Lesson Plan was created by the LOC to help students understand Congress, and the role it plays in our Government. Suitable for all ages.

Is Everyone Protected By the Bill of Rights?
In this lesson, students explore whether gays should be entitled to serve in the military. To understand this issue, students take a look at the civil rights afforded to every US citizen. We explore how this applied to the civil rights movement, and whether it is also applicable to gays who want to serve in the military. All this is used to gather information for a final debate about the issue using skills and research found in the lesson.

On the Edge and Under the Gun
This middle school lesson will expose students to the issues of gun control, the right to bear arms, and the overwhelming seriousness of gun related violence. After exploring the complexities of this problem, students will then examine what can, and has been done to redress the situation using the Million Mom March as a reference point. Students will be required to synthesize web information on the topic in the form of a research paper.

U.S. Constitution Web Quest
“You are a journalist for a school newspaper. In your research you have discovered that many of your peers do not know anything about the US Constitution. Your task is to complete this WebQuest so that you may understand the US Constitution and teach your classmates about its origins, significance, and relevance to our society.”

The Constitution Web Quest
“The year is 1787 and you have been elected to represent your state at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. You will be “rubbing shoulders” with the likes of James Madison, Patrick Henry, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. Depending on your state of origin and your station in life, you may be a supporter (Federalist) or an opponent (Anti-Federalist) of the Constitution.”

The Statue of Liberty
In this six-part PBS lesson plan students study the role the Statue of Liberty has played in US history and in the hearts and minds of Americans and the world. Students try to define liberty and then explore how it can be embodied or personified in a statue. Grades 4 -9.

Branching Out: Exploring the Reorganization of the American Government Post-September 11

In this New York Times lesson, students learn about the departments within the judicial and executive branches of United States government and create a trivia game to test their knowledge.(June 9, 2002)

Mixed Blessings: Exploring the Separation of Church and State in Patriotic Poetry
In this New York Times lesson, students will learn about the recent federal appeals court decision finding the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. They then further investigate the notions of constitutionality and separation between church and state by researching and analyzing another patriotic American poem or song.(June 28, 2002)

White House Havoc: Exploring How American Presidents Have Dealt with Crises
In this New York Times lesson, students will research past United States presidents’ methods of confronting crises. They then write a State of the Union Address for that president in historical context.(February 10, 2003)

U.S. Presidential Elections Quiz
This activity contains 18 questions that can be presented in a variety of formats.

U.S. State Department, Official Web Site
In addition to being a wealth of information, there is also a Youth and Education section with links to a student website as well as a variety of educator materials.

The Federal Judiciary Homepage
Students can learn about the judiciary system as well as find educational resources on the Federal Court System and Constitution. There is also a classrooms to courtrooms section designed to foster critical thinking skills, provide presentation resources, and encourage scenario-based learning.