School Improvement in Maryland

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 1.0 Political Science

Topic A. The Foundations and Function of Government

Indicator 1. Investigate the evolution of the U.S. political system as expressed in the United States Constitution

Objective d. Explain and summarize how the supremacy of the national government was defined by events, such as Shay's Rebellion and early decisions of the Supreme Court, such as McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

To illustrate the influence of Shays' Rebellion on the formation of a stronger national government, first present students with information about the causes and course of the rebellion. Tell them that the rebellion influenced the development of the U.S. Constitution. Ask them to read the Constitution's Preamble and identify which phrase might be reflective of Shay's Rebellion. Explain that Shays' Rebellion prompted a debate within the Constitutional Convention. Have students read Thomas Jefferson's letter to James Madison of January 30, 1787 ( in which he argues that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing." Next, have students read the last paragraph of George Washington's letter to James Madison of November 5, 1786 (, in which he expresses his opinion that Shays' Rebellion illustrates the need for a stronger national government. Ask students how they think the majority of the founding fathers (well-to-do, propertied gentlemen) would react to the events in Massachusetts. Ask students to review notes from the Constitutional Convention about the debate over the national legislature's power to suppress insurrections. What were the concerns of both sides? What provision did they finally agree on? Compare this language to the language that ultimately made it into Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution.

Resources for Objective 1.A.1.d:
Clarifications | LESSON SEEDS |