• Unit 3

    How Has the Constitution Been Changed to Further the Ideals Contained in the Declaration of Independence?

    Unit 3


    The Constitution of 1787 has been changed in several important ways. The Framers provided mechanisms for some of those changes, including a process for amending the Constitution. Other changes are not explicitly provided for in the text of the Constitution but have played a significant role in the constitutional system. The Civil War produced three amendments that transformed American federalism and moved the Constitution toward the ideals of equality contained in the Declaration of Independence.

      • Lesson 15

        How Have Amendments and Judicial Review Changed the Constitution?

        This lesson describes the process that the Founders devised for amending the Constitution and the first application of that process: adoption of the Bill of Rights. It also explains the power of judicial review, a process not provided for in the Constitution, and the arguments for and against judicial review.
      • Lesson 16

        What Is the Role of Political Parties in the Constitutional System?

        Soon after the federal government was established, there was an unforeseen development to which most of the Framers were opposed: the formation of political parties. This lesson describes the Framers' views on political parties and how the first parties came to be formed. It also explains how parties became an essential component of the American political system by helping to address challenges that the Constitution left unresolved.
      • Lesson 17

        How Did the Civil War Test and Transform the American Constitutional System?

        Between December 1860 and June 1861 eleven Southern states seceded from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America. The Civil War started in April 1861. The war raised several constitutional issues: the right of states to secede from the union, the president's powers in wartime, the balance between individual rights and national security, and the constitutional status of slavery in the United States. Three constitutional amendments adopted after the war defined American citizenship and transformed the relationship between the national and state governments.
      • Lesson 18

        How Has the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment Changed the Constitution?

        The Fifth Amendment limits only the national government, but the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that states shall not deprive people of life, liberty, or property without "due process of law." The Constitution does not define "due process of law." However, the concept has deep roots in English history, and it has played a central role in Americans' understanding of whether government actions affecting life, liberty, and property are valid. This lesson explains how the interpretation of due process has changed in American law since the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment and how the requirement of due process has been used to protect the rights of individuals against actions by state governments.
      • Lesson 19

        How Has the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment Changed the Constitution?

        The previous lesson explained how the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits state governments from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. This lesson examines how the equal protection clause prohibits state governments from denying people "equal protection of the laws." Like the due process clause, the equal protection clause places limits on America?s governments, not private individuals.
      • Lesson 20

        How Has the Right to Vote Been Expanded since the Adoption of the Constitution?

        During the colonial period and the early years of the nation, suffrage—the right to vote—was generally restricted to white men who owned property. The majority of adult white men met this requirement, especially in rural areas. Other people—women, Native Americans, African Americans, indentured servants, and members of certain religious groups—usually were denied the right to vote. This lesson examines how the right to vote has been extended since 1787. The expansion of the franchise to include almost all citizens eighteen years of age or older represents one of the great themes in American history, in some respects the most important theme.