We are privileged to announce the ASK JOHN PROJECT sponsored by the Center or the Study of the American Constitution and the Center for Civic Education. The project is an eight-part video series that offers a unique opportunity for students and teachers to learn about the Founding Period and constitutional history from Professor John Kaminski. 

Since 1969 John Kaminski has edited The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Twenty-nine volumes of this monumental work have been published to date. In 1981 he founded and still directs The Center for the Study of the American Constitution in the History Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has written dozens of articles and published another twenty-six books on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the federal judiciary, slavery, and the Founding Fathers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Abigail Adams, the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Paine, and others.

Though the actual questions presented on will vary from year to year, we feel the subject matter for each of the units will be relevant to teams, in some part, each year.

For your convenience, we will have also embedded each of the videos at


Unit 1, Question 1 - 1760s and 1770s


Unit 1, Question 3 - What events and documents in British history influenced the colonists’ thinking about government? How are the British and American Constitutions similar? How are they different? What were the rights of Englishmen?


Unit 2, Question 1 - Most of the delegates at the Philadelphia Convention signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787. However, some did not. What were the Anti-Federalists’ objections to the proposed Constitution and how did their political philosophy shape their objections? How did the Federalists respond to Anti-Federalist objections? What was the ratification process for adopting the Constitution, what democratic principles did it reflect, and how did it succeed?


Unit 2, Question 2 - What were the major historical events and philosophical principles that influenced the debates over representation at the Philadelphia Convention? What were the major differences between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists on the issues of representation?


Unit 2, Question 3 - The Articles of Confederation provided the framework for an alliance of states to fight the Revolutionary War and to govern after the war. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation? What is the significance of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787?


Unit 3, Question 2 - If a law has been properly passed by the law-making branches of a democratic government, why should judges have the power to declare it unconstitutional?” Do you agree or disagree with the position implied by this question? Why or why not?


Unit 3, Question 3 - If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” Do you agree or disagree with President Eisenhower? Why? What ideas and events led to the development and growth of political parties in the United States?

Unit 4, Question 1 - How have the role and powers of the U.S. Supreme Court evolved since the founding period?


Unit 5, Question 1 - From their founding era until today, Americans have believed that the highest purpose of government is protection of the rights of the people to whom it is accountable. Commitment to ideals about rights to liberty and equality is the foundation of an American national identity.‘ What are bills of rights and how have they evolved?


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