Congress and Civility by Design

The Center for Legislative Archives has published a new lesson plan called Congress and Civility by Design

The First Congress established civility as a core value of American government. By analyzing primary sources from the First Congress, students will understand how civility in Congress played a central role in the creation of American government and will better understand the role of civility in civic life today.

Page 7 of the House Journal of the First Session of the First Congress, 1789. View in National Archives Catalog

In the first activity, students work in small groups to analyze excerpts from the first Journal of the U.S. House of Representatives and complete a worksheet. The guiding principle of this activity is to demonstrate to students how the actions undertaken by the First Congress support the idea that “public office is a public trust.”

In the second activity, students study the Rules of Debate as established by the U.S. Senate and answer analysis questions. The guiding principle of this activity is to demonstrate to students that rules were created by the First Senate to foster equality, fairness, and respectfulness during debate.

Reflection questions draw on knowledge obtained by the students during the first two activities to help answer  the guiding question of the lesson: “How did the procedures and rules of debate promote civility as a core value of Congress?

If you use this lesson in your classroom, we’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

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