Identify and explain historical and contemporary efforts to narrow discrepancies between foundational ideas and values of American democracy and realities of American political and civic life.

Focus Question: What are times when American realities conflicted with American ideals?

external image Constitution_Pg1of4_AC_icon_cut.png

Multimedia.pngReading Between the Lines of the Constitution: An Annotated Guide from The New York Times in 2011 offers a guide to some of the most contested clauses in the Constitution by groups from all sides of the political spectrum.

For more information on the Constitution, see USI.7, USI.8, Grade 5.24 and Grade 5.25

Amendments to the Constitution

1870  Print Celebrating Passage of the 15th Amendment
1870 Print Celebrating Passage of the 15th Amendment

9000 amendments have been proposed; 27 have been passed.

Click here for an overview of Amendments 11-27

For more on the amendment process, see Article V: Amending the Constitution from the Exploring Constitutional Conflicts website from the University of Missouri Kansas City.

Some examples of when our nation's ideals conflicted with its reality can be seen with the following examples:


The Civil Rights Movement

Female_Rose.pngThe Women's Rights Movement

  • See United States History II.27
  • Before the Women's Rights Movement of the 1960's came the Women's Suffrage Movement in the previous century. It culminated in 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment, which prohibited denying people the right to vote because of their sex. For a timeline of the whole movement, photos, and cartoons, click here.

lesson_plan_icon.jpgFor a lesson plan from the Library of Congress on women's suffrage, click here.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 9.41.22 AM.pngThe suppression of Native Americans

Labor Movement

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.56.56 PM.pngLGBT Rights Movement

Foreign Policy

  • Throughout the twentieth century, and especially during the Cold War, the United States intervened in the politics of many countries. The reasons for these interventions are complex, but often it had to do with business interests and preventing the spread of Communism. Oftentimes, these interventions involved behavior that was contradictory to classic American ideals.
  • A good example of this occurred in Chile with the overthrow of democratically elected leader Salvador Allende in 1973. To learn about the overthrow and the involvement of the US, click here.
Multimedia.pngTo learn about a similar event that occurred in Guatemala in 1954, watch this short video.

lesson_plan_icon.jpgCheck out this lesson plan on thinkfinity that aims to show students the different social injustices forced upon peoples abroad and at home on American soil, including Native Americans and Japanese Americans.