The Title and Three Core Values from the First Three Lines of The Declaration of Independence
Political Science and International Affairs
Teaching the Declaration of Independence can be a challenge. This article presents a lesson plan based on an explication of the title and the first three lines of the Declaration intended to make the American founding era relevant to today's college students. Assuming civic education is a major goal of teaching American Government, assuming founding documents are important to that goal, and assuming classical political philosophy is relevant to that goal, I present here 17 topics related to American Government derived from a line-by-line reading of the beginning of the Declaration: the American Revolution and classical political philosophy, Socrates, framing, the politics of holidays, consensus, state v. society, separation of church and state, standard of violence, unity, foreign policy, self-evident truths, equality, natural right, life, liberty, happiness, and self-government. Evidence reveals that this lesson plan challenges students to read the text closely and connects the founding era to current political issues.
Journal of Political Science Education
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