This lesson, developed by Shawneen Morrison, is designed to increase student awareness of the historical tension over balancing civil liberties with national security. The lesson begins with a political opinion survey that sets students up for charges of sedition under the Espionage and Sedition Acts. After reviewing excerpts from the Sedition Act, students assess the degree of their inevitable criminal offense. Next, students learn how The Acts were enforced (including the Palmer Raids), how the government promoted The Acts through a propaganda campaign, and the degree to which The Acts were enforced against socialists because of the Red Scare. Excerpts from the speech that landed presidential candidate Eugene Debs a 10-year sentence under the Sedition Act are analyzed for content that would reasonably warrant his conviction. Afterward, students identify multiple constitutional guarantees that The Acts clearly violated. Then they learn the dissonant fact that the Supreme Court actually upheld The Acts on three separate occasions including the case of Eugene Debs. Finally, the evolutionary reasoning of the Supreme Court regarding sedition legislation is discussed and brought into the modern day.
Included in this lesson:
• Student Materials for the Simulation
• Detailed Instructor Background Notes
• Complete Lesson Plan
• Answer Key for Use as a Discussion Guide
• Primary Source Documents Including:
Excerpts from the Sedition Act of 1918
Excerpts from Eugene Debs’ Speech in Canton Ohio
6 Government Propaganda Posters
4 Related Political Cartoons
Photo from the Palmer Raids
Image of the Wall Street Bombing
• Common Core Alignment
• 2 Suggested Extension Activities
For other compelling simulations, consider:
ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS SIMULATION
WORLD GEOGRAPHY DEMONSTRATION: CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND WEALTH DISPARITY
WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE SIMULATION
THE STAMP ACT SIMULATION - WILL YOU COMPLY?
SLAVE SHIP SIMULATION - COMBINED MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL LEVELS
ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS SIMULATION: POPULATION, CONSUMPTION, AND GLOBAL WARMING
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