Foundational U.S. Documents Worksheets

All About These 15 Worksheets

Students investigate and reflect on the foundational documents that shaped the United States with this comprehensive series of 15 worksheets on Foundational U.S. Documents. This collection is designed to introduce students to the key historical texts that laid the groundwork for American democracy, rights, and governance. Through engaging activities and thought-provoking exercises, students will gain a deeper understanding of the historical context, significance, and enduring impact of these foundational documents. Through these worksheets, students will:

  • Learn about the origins of the Magna Carta, its impact on the concepts of individual rights and the rule of law, and its influence on the development of American legal principles;
  • Explore the role of the Mayflower Compact in establishing self-governance and the principles of majority rule and the consent of the governed;
  • Examine the ideas and grievances expressed in the Declaration of Independence and reflect on its enduring influence as a statement of principles and a call for freedom;
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, and understand why they were eventually replaced by the U.S. Constitution;
  • Investigate the terms of the Treaty of Paris, its impact on territorial boundaries, and the recognition of American independence;
  • Explore the provisions of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and its impact on the formation of new states and the prohibition of slavery;
  • Analyze the meaning and purpose of the Preamble to the Constitution, and explore its significance in setting the tone and goals of the Constitution;
  • Explore the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights;
  • Analyze Lincoln’s reflections on the war, his call for unity and reconciliation, and the enduring significance of his words as shown in his 2nd Inaugural Adress;
  • And explore the structure of a chosen article from the U.S. Constitution, the principles it embodies, and the rights and responsibilities it confers on citizens.

Overall, this series of worksheets helps students gain a broader understanding of the ideas, values, and historical events that shaped the nation. Through a wide variety of activities and exercises, students will develop critical thinking skills, historical empathy, and a greater appreciation for the enduring relevance of these foundational U.S. documents. Students will be inspired to reflect on the principles of democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law, and their significance in the American experience.

What Are The Foundational U.S. Documents?

The foundational documents of the United States are a collection of historical writings that played a significant role in shaping the nation’s government, political philosophy, and principles. These documents laid the groundwork for the American political system and continue to inform the interpretation and understanding of the Constitution and the nation’s values.

American soil is rich with the history of many nations; before becoming the United States of America, the country had to undergo extreme changes that are documented in the form of foundational documents of the U.S. These are the five documents that changed the course of history for America.

The Declaration of Rights and Grievances

As the other half of the world, America was also divided into thirteen British colonies. The declaration of rights and grievances was composed by American colonists, known as Stamp Act Congress. The author was John Dickson from Pennsylvania, who wrote it on October 19th, 1765. This was written in retaliation against unfair taxes on the printable paper of the colonists. It declared that American colonists must use only the paper made in London for all types of printables such as newspapers, cards, playing cards, etc. The declaration of Rights and Grievances asked for representation in the parliament in return for paying taxes and equal rights between the colonists and the British citizens. Nine out of thirteen accepted this declaration.

Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress

The Boston Tea Party, in which the sons of liberty spilled 342 crates of imported tea because of the earlier Tea Act of 1773, became the basis of the road to independence. Due to the events in Boston, the British imposed four acts to punish the Massachusetts and regain authority over all the colonies. These intolerable acts made twelve colonies come together and propose the declaration of rights 1774 on October 14th. It talked about boycotting British goods and laws until their concerns weren’t met, publicly addressing the British Americans and Britishers, and sending a petition to the King.

Declaration of Independence

“That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.” It is one of the lines from the declaration passed by thirteen colonies unanimously on July 4th, 1776. The Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia decided to make American colonies into independent states and break ties with the British claim and authority. The basis of independence was:

1. All men are equal in God’s eyes; they have rights to life, happiness, and liberty.

2. Government is only there to protect these rights

3. If the Government fails to do this, people have the right to revolt against it.

It is the primary foundational U.S document that is celebrated each year.

Articles of Confederation

The first constitution consisting of thirteen points made in November 1777, was sent to the original thirteen states. The first and the essential article was the country’s name, The United States of America. Under the Government, which was the Congress at the time, the country had the power to go to war, issue money, enter into treaties, settle debts, maintain armies and navies, etc. However, the confederation brought all the states under one article: “The combined states were responsible for helping to protect each other from attacks.” These were ratified in February 1781.

Constitution of the United States of America

It was the document created on September 17th, 1787, and was the first fundamental law of the country. It ensured how the nation was supposed to be governed in terms of the official offices, legislature, the fundamental rights of the citizens, and laws imposed. The constitution was ratified in March 1789. However, it has been amended many times over the past two centuries.

Bill of Rights

A document ratified in December 1791 had the first ten amendments to the constitution. It stated the rights of the people and each state’s rights, freedom of speech, religion, rights of the accused, and many other points were added to the constitution. It is one of the foundational U.S documents used to this date.