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How to
Use the Activities


Inquiry Question

Historical Context




Table of

Putting It All Together

The following activities allow students to further explore the people and the qualities that we associate with greatness.

Activity 1: Assessing Public and Private Qualities
Associated with Greatness

Have students review the readings of this lesson and work in small groups to identify and discuss the qualities or characteristics of Marshall that constituted his greatness. Remind them to consider the relationship of his civic virtues and personal values--the public and private facets of his character--to his achievement of greatness. Finally, have each group identify two or three persons of the present whom they regard as great and compare their personal characteristics and values with those of Marshall. If students do not have information about the people they have selected, ask them to decide what they would need to know. Then ask them where they could find that information. Have each student pick one of their group’s candidates for greatness, research more about his or her life and accomplishments, and write an essay on the qualities that person possesses. Read some of the essays aloud in class.

Activity 2: Inquiry on the Landmark Supreme
Court Opinions of John Marshall

Have students conduct inquiries on the greatest Supreme Court decisions and opinions of Chief Justice Marshall. A useful source for this project is The Constitution and Chief Justice Marshall by William F. Swindler (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1978). Landmark cases students might select include: Marbury v. Madison (1803), McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), Cohens v. Virginia (1821), and Gibbons v. Ogden (1824). In examining and reporting on each case, have students identify (a) the origin and constitutional issue of the case; (b) the Court’s opinion on the issue; (c) public reaction (such as Spencer Roane’s criticism of the decision in McCulloch v. Maryland); (d) the defense of the decision, whether by Marshall or someone else; and (e) the significance of the case for today’s operations of American government and constitutional law. Have students write a newspaper editorial supporting or opposing one of these decisions.

Activity 3: Historic Sites in the Local Community
Have students conduct research to find a historic site in their own community that is associated with an important figure. Ask students to investigate the following questions and prepare a written report: What did the individual do to achieve distinction? How are the site and the individual related? How and why was the site preserved? Was a local or state organization responsible for preserving the site, as was the case with Marshall’s house? How, why, and when did that organization get started? Have a few students read their reports aloud and then hold a classroom discussion on whether or not students feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.



Comments or Questions

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