| »

Tribal Governance,

Karenne Wood

Understanding the complex nature of relationships between American Indian tribal governments, states, and the federal government is essential. American Indians possess a unique status in the U.S. because their nations exist within but predate the…

Dillon’s Rule: Should it Stay or Should it Go?,

Shawn English, Fairfax County Public Schools

As one of the central principles that guide policy making decisions of local jurisdictions, Dillon’s Rule (state control of local government) is an important concept in understanding government in the Commonwealth. Students will read an essay about…

Federal v. Consolidated Government: Patrick Henry, Virginia Ratifying Convention,

Patrick Henry

"Founding Father" Patrick Henry gave a moving speech before the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788, as the commonwealth tried to decide whether to approve the U.S. Constitution. In his speech, Henry voiced many concerns about adopting a federal…

Facts and History - Governors,

This simple resource offers the names, dates served, and party affiliations of Virginia's governors from 1776 to 2006. If read carefully, the data reveals clues to Virginia's political leanings.

What are some trends in the party…

Constitutional Issues: Separation of Powers,

National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives website features a lesson plan about the separation of powers on a federal and state level that revolves around a history of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s court packing during the 1930s. It includes background information on the time period, as well as a primary source document in which a newspaper publisher warns that FDR’s actions may lead to “absolutism and complete dictatorial power.” The website also features a document analysis worksheet and teaching activities.

Brown v. Board of Education: Five Communities That Changed America,

National Park Service

the National Park Service. has created a Brown vs. Board of Education lesson plan that places the landmark civil rights case within the context of five communities affected by school segregation, including Farmville, Virginia. Background reading on the website can help place school desegregation in a national context. Four photographs of a segregated African American school in Farmville give a stark visual representation of inequality in education during the 1950s. The website also offers ways these resources can be used in the classroom, and supplementary resources useful for further research.

U.S. Constitution Guide,

NPR's Justice Talking and The New York Times Learning Network

This website provides a point-by-point explanation of the U.S. Constitution. Each page includes the text of an article or amendment, as well as an in-depth explanation of the meaning and historical context. It can be very helpful for anyone trying to understand the sometimes dense text of the U.S. Constitution. Another useful learning technique is contrasting the development and text of the U.S. Constitution with the Virginia Constitution.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights,

George Mason

George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. He drew inspiration from the English Bill of Rights (1689). However, Mason made several changes to the English version, such as removing hereditary positions in government. The Virginia…

Excerpts from the Lawes Divine, Morall, and Martiall (1611),

Sir Thomas Gates and Sir Thomas Dale

Written in 1611, this document outlines some of the original laws governing the Jamestown colony. These laws were intended to govern all aspects of the colony, from theft to blasphemy. As maintaining prisons was often impractical, there was usually a…