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Thinkwell Home-school Curriculum

American Government

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Our complete American Government package includes:
  • 12-month Online Subscription to our complete American Government course with video lessons, day-by-day lesson plans, automatically graded exercises, and much more.
  • CD Set (optional) contains all of the video lessons so that you can watch them when you're away from the internet.
  • Printed Notes (optional) are the American Government course notes from the Online Subscription printed in a black & white, on-the-go format. These are available for purchase from the American Government Course Site.

American Government details

Thinkwell's American Government is taught by renowned political science professors from prestigious universities. It's equivalent to a one- semester introductory political science course at two- and four-year colleges. The content is very similar to the high school version, which is usually a required social science course.

If you intend to take the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam, then take our AP American Government, which includes tests and exams that help students prepare for the AP exam.

Thinkwell's American Government has all the features your home school needs:

  • More than 170 educational video lessons
  • 132 available contact hours (What is this?)
  • 36-week lesson plan with daily assignments (see lesson plan)
  • 1000+ interactive American government exercises with immediate feedback allow you to track your progress (See sample)
  • Automatically graded tests for all 7 chapters, as well as practice tests, a midterm, and a final exam
  • Printable illustrated notes for each topic
  • Interactive animations with audio
  • Glossary of more than 150 civics terms
  • Engaging content to help students advance their knowledge of American government:
    • Constitutional principles such as federalism and the checks-and-balances system
    • Civil liberties and rights
    • Modes of political participation
    • Political parties and elections
    • Federal political institutions: Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate), the presidency, and the Supreme Court
    • Economic, social, and foreign policy
    • Citizen participation in the new century
    • Key Supreme Court cases like Marbury v. Madison and Korematsu v. United States

About the Authors

Professor Gerald Rosenberg

Gerald Rosenberg
University of Chicago

Gerald Rosenberg is an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he also directs the American Politics Workshop and lectures at the law school. He holds a master's degree in Politics and Philosophy from Christ Church, Oxford University, and has a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from Yale.

As a specialist on the judiciary, Prof. Rosenberg is the author of The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? and spent the 2000–2001 academic year teaching at Northwestern University Law School as Jack N. Pritzker Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law.

He has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and spent the 2002-2003 academic year teaching U.S. law at Xiamen University in China. He has also been awarded the Llewellyn John & Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Chicago.

Professor Mark Rom

Mark Rom
Georgetown University

A three-time winner of his school's Outstanding Faculty Member Award, Mark Rom is an associate professor of government and public policy at Georgetown University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin and worked for four years as a senior social science analyst for the General Accounting Office. Prof. Rom is the author of Fatal Extraction: The Story Behind the Florida Dentist Accused of Infecting His Patients with HIV, Poisoning Public Health, and Public Spirit in the Thrift Tragedy, and coauthor of Welfare Magnets: A New Case for a National Standard.

Professor Matthew Dickinson

Matthew Dickinson
Middlebury College

Matthew Dickinson is an associate professor of political science at Middlebury College. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard. A specialist on the presidency, he is the author of Bitter Harvest: FDR, Presidential Power and the Growth of the Presidential Branch. Prof. Dickinson has published numerous articles and has provided television commentary on the presidency, presidential decision-making, and presidential advisers. His current research examines the growth of presidential staff in the post–World War II era.

Table of Contents

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1. Constitutional Principles

  • 1.1 The Foundations of Government
    • 1.1.1 An Introduction to Government
    • 1.1.2 Why Government?
    • 1.1.3 Who Governs?
    • 1.1.4 Political Power
  • 1.2 Political Culture
    • 1.2.1 An Introduction to Political Culture
    • 1.2.2 The Foundations of American Culture
    • 1.2.3 Unity and Diversity
    • 1.2.4 Video Biography: What Is Government?
  • 1.3 The History of the Constitution
    • 1.3.1 Britain and the Colonies
    • 1.3.2 The Articles of Confederation
    • 1.3.3 The Constitutional Convention
    • 1.3.4 Final Steps to a Federal Government
    • 1.3.5 The Road to Ratification
  • 1.4 The Constitution in Action
    • 1.4.1 The Bill of Rights
    • 1.4.2 Checks and Balances
    • 1.4.3 Amending the Constitution
  • 1.5 Why Federalism?
    • 1.5.1 Three Democratic Systems of Government
    • 1.5.2 The Pros and Cons of Federalism
  • 1.6 Federalism in Action: Divided Powers
    • 1.6.1 Federalism Today
    • 1.6.2 Federalism through History
    • 1.6.3 Hot Topic: The Federal Trump Card: The Commerce Clause

2. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

  • 2.1 An Introduction to Civil Liberties and Rights
    • 2.1.1 The Creation of Rights
    • 2.1.2 Equality of Opportunity versus Equality of Results
    • 2.1.3 Equal Protection Under the Law
  • 2.2 First Amendment Rights
    • 2.2.1 Freedom of Religion
    • 2.2.2 Freedom of Expression: Criticizing the Government
    • 2.2.3 Freedom of Expression: Pornography and Cyberspeech
    • 2.2.4 Hot Topic: Hate Speech: Right to Free Expression or Invitation to Violence?
    • 2.2.5 Freedom of Expression: A Free Press
    • 2.2.6 The Right to Assemble
  • 2.3 The Individual and Rights
    • 2.3.1 Individual Freedoms versus the Common Good
    • 2.3.2 The Right to Privacy
    • 2.3.3 Hot Topic: Email Privacy
    • 2.3.4 The Individual in the Criminal Justice System
    • 2.3.5 The Rights of the Accused
  • 2.4 Additional Guarantees under the Bill of Rights
    • 2.4.1 Second Amendment: The Right to Bear Arms
  • 2.5 The African-American Struggle for Rights
    • 2.5.1 Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement
    • 2.5.2 The Struggle for Civil Rights: 1900–1950s
    • 2.5.3 Civil Rights Legislation: 1960s and Later
    • 2.5.4 Case Study: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
  • 2.6 Civil Rights and Other Groups
    • 2.6.1 Women and the Struggle for Rights
    • 2.6.2 Rights Revolution: The Expansion of Rights
    • 2.6.3 Hot Topic: Sexual Harassment

3. People and Politics

  • 3.1 Public Opinion
    • 3.1.1 What Is Public Opinion?
    • 3.1.2 Political Socialization: Opinion and the Individual
    • 3.1.3 Looking at Opinion Polls
  • 3.2 Participation and Social Capital
    • 3.2.1 Translating Opinion into Action
    • 3.2.2 Who Participates?
    • 3.2.3 The Importance of Participation: Social Capital
  • 3.3 Mobilizing for Action
    • 3.3.1 Organizing to Participate
    • 3.3.2 Social Movements
    • 3.3.3 Case Study: Same-Sex Marriages
  • 3.4 Interest Groups and Political Action Committees
    • 3.4.1 Interest Groups and Their Impact on Politics
    • 3.4.2 PAC Power
    • 3.4.3 The Art of Lobbying
    • 3.4.4 Regulating Organized Groups

4. Choosing Representatives

  • 4.1 Political Parties: History and Origins
    • 4.1.1 Political Parties and Their Functions
    • 4.1.2 The American Two-Party System
    • 4.1.3 A History of Political Parties in the U.S.
    • 4.1.4 Case Study: Why No Socialism in America?
  • 4.2 Political Parties Today
    • 4.2.1 The Model of Responsible Party Government
    • 4.2.2 Party Structure
    • 4.2.3 Nominating
    • 4.2.4 Parties and Money
    • 4.2.5 The Changing Role of the National Convention
    • 4.2.6 Hot Topic: Reform Party: New Party or Personal Vehicle?
  • 4.3 Election Campaigns
    • 4.3.1 Organizing to Run for Election
    • 4.3.2 Campaign Strategy in the Primaries
    • 4.3.3 Campaign Strategy in the General Election
    • 4.3.4 Campaign Techniques, Part I
    • 4.3.5 Campaign Techniques, Part II
    • 4.3.6 Campaign Finance
    • 4.3.7 Hot Topic: Campaign Finance Reform
  • 4.4 Elections and Voting
    • 4.4.1 Voter Turnout
    • 4.4.2 Case Study: The Election of 1800: The Bitter Battle
    • 4.4.3 Case Study: The Disputed Election of 1876
    • 4.4.4 The Issues
    • 4.4.5 Voting Decisions
    • 4.4.6 Nonvoting
  • 4.5 The Media and Politics
    • 4.5.1 Media Influence on Elections
    • 4.5.2 Media Bias
    • 4.5.3 Influencing Elections and Shaping Public Opinion
    • 4.5.4 Video Biography: Negative Campaign Ads

5. Political Institutions

  • 5.1 Congress: Our Representatives
    • 5.1.1 A Bicameral Legislative Body
    • 5.1.2 Getting Elected to Congress
    • 5.1.3 Staffs, Perks, and Specialized Offices
    • 5.1.4 Roles of Legislators
    • 5.1.5 Hot Topic: Term Limits
  • 5.2 Congress in Action
    • 5.2.1 Characteristics of the Two Houses
    • 5.2.2 The House
    • 5.2.3 The Senate
    • 5.2.4 How a Bill Becomes Law
    • 5.2.5 Evaluating Congress
  • 5.3 The Office of the President
    • 5.3.1 Being President
    • 5.3.2 Presidential Leadership
    • 5.3.3 The Presidential Staff and Advisers
    • 5.3.4 Hot Topic: Presidential Pardons
  • 5.4 The Roles of the President
    • 5.4.1 Legislative Agenda Setter
    • 5.4.2 National CEO
    • 5.4.3 A World Leader
    • 5.4.4 Hot Topic: Edith Wilson as Petticoat President
    • 5.4.5 Party Leader
    • 5.4.6 Hot Topic: Presidential Character
  • 5.5 The Powers of the President
    • 5.5.1 Powers and Privileges
    • 5.5.2 Checks and Restraints on Presidential Power
    • 5.5.3 Hot Topic: Executive Privilege
    • 5.5.4 Hot Topic: Presidential War Powers
  • 5.6 Divided Government
    • 5.6.1 Controlling Extremes
    • 5.6.2 Lobbying the President and Congress
    • 5.6.3 Hot Topic: The Electoral College
  • 5.7 The Federal Bureaucracy
    • 5.7.1 The Federal Bureaucracy
    • 5.7.2 Policymakers and Implementers
    • 5.7.3 Budgetmaking
    • 5.7.4 Controls on Bureaucracy
    • 5.7.5 Reform Efforts
    • 5.7.6 Case Study: The IRS
  • 5.8 The Federal Court System
    • 5.8.1 Court Powers and Restraints
    • 5.8.2 Prosecution and Defense in Federal Courts
    • 5.8.3 Case Study: Roe v. Wade and the Abortion Movement, Part I
    • 5.8.4 Case Study: Roe v. Wade and the Abortion Movement, Part II
  • 5.9 The Supreme Court
    • 5.9.1 Appointing the Court
    • 5.9.2 Leadership on the Supreme Court
    • 5.9.3 Process and Calendar
    • 5.9.4 Early Decisions That Defined Federal Power
    • 5.9.5 Hot Topic: The Bush Appointments, 2001–2006
    • 5.9.6 Case Study: Affirmative Action
    • 5.9.7 Case Study: Incorporation

6. Public Policy

  • 6.1 Policymaking
    • 6.1.1 Purpose and Policymaking
    • 6.1.2 Policy Development
    • 6.1.3 Changing Public Policy
    • 6.1.4 The Media and Governance
    • 6.1.5 Case Study: School Vouchers
  • 6.2 Economic Policy
    • 6.2.1 Theories of Economic Policy
    • 6.2.2 Tax Policy
    • 6.2.3 How the Budget Influences Policy
    • 6.2.4 Understanding Debts, Deficits, and Surpluses
    • 6.2.5 Case Study: U.S. Debts, Deficits, and Surpluses
    • 6.2.6 Managing the Economy
    • 6.2.7 The Global Economy and the U.S.
    • 6.2.8 Case Study: Energy Policy
  • 6.3 Social Policy
    • 6.3.1 Promoting the General Welfare
    • 6.3.2 Social Policy and Poverty
    • 6.3.3 Senior Citizens
    • 6.3.4 Health Care
    • 6.3.5 Education
    • 6.3.6 Hot Topic: Invisible Welfare
  • 6.4 Foreign Policy: An Introduction
    • 6.4.1 U.S. Foreign Policy: Pre–20th Century
    • 6.4.2 U.S. Foreign Policy: 20th Century and Beyond
  • 6.5 Foreign Policy: The Cast of Characters
    • 6.5.1 The U.S. President
    • 6.5.2 Influences on Presidents' Behavior
    • 6.5.3 The United Nations
    • 6.5.4 Treaties and Alliances
  • 6.6 The Post-Cold War Era
    • 6.6.1 Consequences of the Collapse of the USSR
    • 6.6.2 Defense Issues
    • 6.6.3 Foreign Aid
    • 6.6.4 Hot Topic: The World Trade Organization: Corporate Power Run Rampant?
    • 6.6.5 Hot Topic: 9/11 and the War on Terror
    • 6.6.6 Hot Topic: The Iraq War

7. Toward a Changing Democracy

  • 7.1 Citizen Participation in the New Century
    • 7.1.1 A Clash of Values for Governance
    • 7.1.2 Immigration and the New Governance
    • 7.1.3 Political Participation in the New Century
    • 7.1.4 Case Study: The 2000 Election
    • 7.1.5 Case Study: The 2004 Election
    • 7.1.6 Case Study: The 2006 Election
    • 7.1.7 Case Study: The 2000 Census
    • 7.1.8 Case Study: The 2008 Election

8. Appendix: Key Supreme Court Cases

  • 8.1 Key Supreme Court Cases
    • 8.1.1 McCulloch v. Maryland
    • 8.1.2 Miranda v. Arizona
    • 8.1.3 Korematsu v. United States
    • 8.1.4 Marbury v. Madison
    • 8.1.5 New York Times v. Sullivan
    • 8.1.6 City of Indianapolis v. Edmond
    • 8.1.7 Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe
    • 8.1.8 Washington v. Glucksberg
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