Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
Launching the New U.S. Navy
This lesson correlates to the National Standards for United States History:
- Era 3 - Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
- Standard 3A: Demonstrate understanding of the issues related to the creation and ratification of the United States Constitution and the new Government it established.
This lesson also correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government:
- Standard I. A. 2: Explain the major arguments advanced for the necessity of politics and government.
- Standard III. B. 1: Evaluate, take, and defend positions on issues regarding the purposes, organization, and functions of the national government.
Share this exercise with your history and government colleagues.
Analyzing the Document
- Provide students with a copy of the United States Constitution and ask them to locate general references to the common defense and specific references to the Navy in the document.
- Encourage students to share their findings with the class. As students identify references, write down the article and section numbers and a brief statement about each one on the board. The most important references include the following:
In the Constitution's preamble: ". . . provide for the common defense."
In Article I, section 8: "The Congress shall have Power To . . . provide and maintain a Navy . . . make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces."
In Article I, section 10: "No State shall, without the Consent of Congress . . . keep Troops or Ships of War in time of Peace . . ."
In Article II, section 2: "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy . . ."
- Divide students into five groups. Provide each group with a different Navy document and a copy of the Document Analysis Worksheet.
- Instruct each group to analyze their document and respond to the questions on the Document Analysis Worksheet.
- Ask a spokesperson from each group to describe their document to the class. While listening to the presentations, students should determine which Constitutional provision each document relates to.
- Lead a discussion to compare student answers. Encourage students to further analyze the Constitution and determine the relationship between Congress and the President with regard to nominations as illustrated by documents #3 - Washington and #5 - Adams.
- As a followup activity, ask students to research current government activities related to the Navy and determine which provisions in the Constitution they relate to. The Web sites of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House are online resources for such information.