ELA 11: 2.5a: Context for Historical Documents

The Constitution seems like a pretty huge legal document for people who just want to be free to do their own thing, but just giving everyone free rein over a country isn't always the best plan.

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Transcript

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Joe? Believe it or not you should probably believe it, King George the [Man with cotton in his eye]

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third had a role to play in the creation of the Declaration of Independence.

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Here's what happened, over a period of about 200 years lots of people left [Boats leaving from Britain headed for America]

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merry old England for the American colonies, they went for economic reasons,

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they went for religious reasons, they went because it seemed like a good idea [People stood on a boat]

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at the time although maybe not so much in retrospect.. Well even though these

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folks were a long way from their home country they still considered themselves [Kid looking through binoculars]

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to be good English citizens. Which is why they were so peeved when the English

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government insisted on doing things like quartering English troops inside [English soldier inside someones house]

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American homes and taxing the colonists without allowing them to have any

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representation in Parliament, which is where King George comes in. The colonists [Picture of Westminster]

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blamed him for their predicament they tried to make nice they tried to

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cooperate but around Georgey wouldn't play ball. And the colonists well they [King George stood with a baseball team]

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decided they could do better, a lot better. Well the American Revolution at

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its heart is the story of a bunch of well-educated white guys who read a lot

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of books that convinced them that they could rule themselves. The writings of [Picture of a meeting of the founding fathers]

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John Locke told the founding fathers that a government is beholden to its

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citizens, see and that's the other way round from how things used to be..

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If that government doesn't work out well then down the well it goes, where not even [The word government is thrown down a well]

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Lassie can save it. Text written by David Hume assured the founding fathers that

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the revolutionary truth they were feeling were based in reason rather than

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religion. Rousseau's writings on the social contract and Cicero's take on [Pictures of a brain and Jesus appear]

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government contribute to the philosophical foundation what would

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become yes the United States. Well the founding fathers and the American

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colonists took these ideas and ran with them, not too fast though, those ideas were [People running in a race]

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heavy, really heavy. And the race to the finish line was not easy it's hard to

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abandon colonial life when it's all you've ever known. Plus there was no

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guarantee that the revolutionaries would make it to the yellow tape. After all [People racing almost at the finish line]

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nobody had ever ditched their king in favor of a democratic form of government

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before. In fact the brand-new United States of America almost didn't make it. [The U.S. with a dummy and bottle]

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Well under the Articles of Confederation nothing worked, not the government not

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the economy and not the Wi-Fi connection at Starbucks although we really can't [Man sat in Starbucks]

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blame that last one on the articles... Things got so bad in fact that a number of people

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who'd rebelled against King George decided it was time to rebel against the

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United States. Well while that rebellion eventually fizzled out it did convince [People pulling down a statue]

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the white guys in charge that a stronger national government was totally the way

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to go. Understanding what gave rise to the

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Declaration of Independence and constitution should give you a good

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sense of why a bunch of colonists who were chanting "freedom! freedom!" [People in colonial dress]

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That's what they did, insisted on keeping a significant

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portion of the national population in chains. Yeah good double standarding there guys..

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Well the founding fathers weren't gods, they were men and men who did [Picture of Mount Rushmore]

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things like cheat on their wives, men who kept slaves even though they knew

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slavery was wrong, men who got jealous and men who made mistakes but even though

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the founding fathers weren't perfect they insisted on carrying out the [The founding fathers in a science lab]

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American experiment, and they insisted on keeping at that experiment until they [Fire covers the lab]

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got things right. So yeah context matters it'll help you wrap your head around

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what you're reading, although you may have to get cotton eyed Joe out of your [Girl reading the constitution]

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brain first there.