This module is for High School Activity 5

Activity 5 – Passage 4

Now try one more time with a passage from the U.S. Constitution. We will look at the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and think about how the author, Governor Morris, uses rhetorical features to reveal his purpose. We will also think about how Morris’ viewpoint about the United States is the same or different than Jefferson’s in the Declaration of Independence.

In the passage below, the green highlights indicate the righteous and moral purpose of the people of the United States.

Passage 4: Preamble to the U.S. Constitution  

Drafted by Governor Morris. Published September 19, 1787.

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Think again to the steps for generating a text-dependent question.  Step One requires that students focus on core understandings. Remember to also anchor your questions in the standards. Notice the portions of the standard that are highlighted and direct your attention to what is most important. Step One also has you consider the culminating assessment when crafting the series of text-dependent questions. Step Four requires students to tackle tough questions head on. Since you are asking students to compare two documents, this last question should require students to dig into the deepest meanings of both texts.

Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

You will be comparing the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution to the second half of Paragraph 2 of the Declaration of Independence.  Here is the passage again for your reference.

Two central ideas are interwoven together:

  • Blue highlights indicate how terrible the transgressions of the English government are.
  • Green highlights indicate how righteous and moral the behavior of the colonists is.

Second Half of Paragraph 2 of the Declaration of Independence

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.  Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.  To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Check Your Understanding

Now let's check what you have learned.

When constructing text-dependent questions, you should have a good understanding of the kinds of responses to expect from students and a target response that best demonstrates close reading, use of accurate, relevant text support, and a deep understanding of the core ideas in the text.