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 B. Individual and Group Participation in the Political System

Indicator 1. Analyze the influence of individuals and groups on shaping public policy

Objective d. Explain how the media, interest groups, and public opinion affected elected officials and government policy prior to the Civil War

Select a topic from early U.S. history in which government officials decided to adopt a new public policy or change existing policies. Examples might include adding the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, creating the Bank of the United States, implementing protective tariffs, facilitating settlement of the frontier (including Indian removal), declaring war on Mexico, passing various reforms, limiting/protecting slavery, or issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Have the students read secondary and primary source accounts of the issue for the purpose of addressing the focus question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, what role did public opinion play in this policy implementation/change?” Next, using the Library of Congress’s American Memory page, or some other online resource, provide students with primary evidence of influences on public opinion for this topic, such as broadsides, news articles, political cartoons, banners, etc. Then, be sure that the students also can explain the methods interest groups, the media, and political parties used to influence public opinion on this issue. Consider asking the students to explain which of these had the greatest impact on public opinion for the topic you have selected.

Resources for Objective 1.B.1.d:
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