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To take advantage of and protect the freedoms you as an individual have, you have to know them. That is the purpose of this course book, which guides you through a study of the original constitution. It has lots of definitions and exercises to help you understand the constitution.
It is written so can be used as part of a formal class, however it can be used for self-study, or home schooling. It was revised many times based on classroom experience to make sure the concepts are clearly communicated. Yet, it is not watered down but instead brings you to an understanding of the original document.
From the publisher:
After completing this book, you'll have read and understood the entire U.S. Constitution! This is a study guide for a high school course in the U.S. Constitution. Throughout it are Exercises, some you can do alone but others are designed for classroom participation.
By dictionary definition, a constitution is "the way something is set up." The U.S. Constitution is more than a document. It is also the way our government is set up, its constitution.
The first chapters (or "lessons" if you will) familiarize the student with the purpose of, and a brief history of, governments. The remaining lessons are a reading of the Constitution itself.
Before each of these lessons is a brief explanation of the section of the Constitution being covered and KEY WORDS in the section. The text of the Constitution for that lesson comes next with thought-provoking notes and questions in the margins. At the end of the text are additional explanations, historical notes and so on. The lesson ends with an Exercise of questions to answer. At the end of the book is a Glossary containing most of the unusual words used in the Constitution.
It is possible to view the Constitution (or anything) from many different angles; to look at something, one must take a point of view. For instance, you can look at automobiles from the angle of how fast they go, or how safe they are, or how much they impress the neighbors.
If this book had the title The Automobile (a Study Guide), you would expect to find out what cars are used for, maybe a brief history, and a tour of the steering wheel, tires, engine, and so on. You would expect to learn that cars run on fuel but you would hope not to get into the physics of carburetors or a comparison of carburetors to fuel injection.
To understand some parts, say a windshield, it may be necessary to understand differing ideas about cars in general. For instance, when designing an automobile, some will go for speed while others will consider safety. The speed demon will say that the purpose of the windshield is to allow the car to go faster. The safety nut will insist it is to protect the driver. Both are right. But until the speed-versus-safety controversy is examined, a windshield is just a piece of glass. Suddenly, in the light of the controversy, you understand the windshield better.
To understand the Constitution, one must understand differing ideas about how and why governments are formed. From John Chambers' point of view, there has been one basic controversy which existed before the Constitution was written, was debated hotly while it was being adopted, has plagued it from the beginning, and is still with us today. Political battles in the press, on talk radio and on TV still center on this controversy. You feel the effects of it today (which is probably why you feel the need to understand our Constitution better). You are trying to solve that controversy.
Just as designing automobiles requires a constant balance of speed versus safety, Constitutional government requires a balance between a strong central government and a government limited by individual liberties. At the beginning of this country, Alexander Hamilton worked for a strong central government while Thomas Jefferson considered individual liberties more important. John Chambers believes it is the balance of strong central government versus individual liberties which underlies all Constitutional issues.
In presenting the Constitution, the author views it from the angle of this balancing act. From that angle, he believes you will gain a better understanding. Of course, it can be viewed from different points. (And has been. Try viewing it through the lens of Freudian Analysis -- talk about bizzare!)
John Chambers feels his job is to present the Constitution from the angle he can find. You may find a better point of view. If you do, take it. His promise is that to the best of his ability, when you complete this book, you will have read and understood the entire U.S. Constitution.
The first chapters of this study guide familiarize the student with the purposes
and problems of governments. The remaining lessons are a reading of the Constitution
By dictionary definition, a constitution is "the way something is set up." The U. S.
Constitution is more than a document. It is also the way our government is set up, its
The document called The Constitution is designed to safeguard the freedoms
that citizens of the United States enjoy. In the past 200 years it has been copied, to
greater or lesser success, by countries as different as Mexico and the old U.S.S.R. But
if you ask most U. S. citizens how the Constitution protects our liberties, few will be able
to answer the most basic questions. If We, the People, do not understand the
constitution of our government, we have already lost the Blessings of Liberty it hoped to
Before you Start this Book 1
Problems of Government 3
Is Government Necessary 4
How Government Does Its Job 5
Different Forms of Government. 7
How Thugs Can Take Over a Democracy. ...11
A Brief History of Republican Government. ...13
The American Constitution. 16
The Constitution of the United States of America. ..21
Article I 24
Articles II -III 45
Articles IV -VII 59
Amendments to the Constitution. 63
The Bill of Rights 64
A couple of minor adjustments 68
The Civil War Amendments; 70
The Progressive Amendments 73
The Industrial Age Machine breaks down. ...78
Feeling our way into the Information Age. ...80
The Fourth Branch 85
We, The American People 86
Common Sense 88
The Declaration (of Independence) 89
The Civil Religion 90
The Grievances 92
Attempts to Reconcile 95
You are the Fourth Branch 97
About the author:
John Chambers has a standard response to anyone who questions his credentials for writing a study guide for the Constitution. "Zero," he says. "I am a citizen who took an interest. I have no more intelligence or education than anyone else."
His father might tell you that Mr. Chambers's interest began when he was twelve. That summer, he sat young Johnny down and had him copy the Constitution into one of those composition books with the squiggly black-and-white covers. On the left-hand page, Johnny would copy the document in its original language. On the right-hand side, he translated it into modem English.
Years later, John Chambers was asked by a friend who runs the California Ranch School, a private high school, if John would do some writing for the school. While at the school, a few of the students asked Mr. Chambers if he could teach them something about the Constitution. He could.
The first class was to be strictly a reading of the document but it soon became apparent that was not enough. John remembered his own 12-year-old struggles. He may have read the Constitution, but his life experience was not enough to grasp the concepts. "I knew the words," he says, "but couldn't sing the tune." As that first class read through the document, Mr. Chambers got them to give examples from their own lives.
The next class of students had a study guide with many of the difficult words defined and some examples for teenage lives. But the study guide had weak points still. It improved in that class and the next.
Mr. Chambers was soon teaching courses to neighbors and as an extension course at the local community college. With each class given, Mr. Chambers would see the weaknesses of his study guide, and its strengths. After five years of revisions, the study-guide became as stable as any textbook and became more broadly available.
Mr. Chambers believes that the United States was originally set up as a constitutional republic. Due to ignorance of the Constitution, however, the people have let the government slide into a "democratic republic" where opinion polls have more weight than law or the constitution itself. If enough people discover what the constitution is, he believes, they, as a democracy, will demand the return to a Constitutional Republic.
John Chambers has done a great service to us all in publishing this student's guide
on the American Constitution... All our children need this basic information about
Penny Espinosa, mother of a student
Having studied the Constitution, both on my own and in law enforcement, I believed I was grounded in the subject; this would be a simple 'tune up' review. To my
surprise, I soon realized how much I only thought I knew, and just how much I had
taken for granted.
Bill Babbitt, Journalist
This course has open[ed] the doors to understanding of what government does and how [it] operates.
John Gonzales, studying to become a citizen
After studying [The Constitution of the United States: A Study Guide], I have had a resurgence of hope and energy that this is a government by the people and for the
people and that it takes our action and conviction to maintain our rights and powers.
Mary Adams, Teacher
A superb layman's guide to our Constitution.
H. Peter Young, Attorney at Law, Constitutional Law