The online tool for teaching with documents, from the National Archives

Principles of Democracy and Symbols of Citizenship

Making Connections

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

How are people united by the principles of democracy and symbols of citizenship.  You will analyze different symbols to see how they represent our country, our government, and democracy.  

Answer the questions listed below in the next available response box.


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

Principles of Democracy and Symbols of Citizenship

Making Connections

Examine the documents and text included in this activity. Fill in any blanks in the sequence with your thoughts and write your conclusion response in the space provided.

Does anyone know what this statue is?
Does anyone know what it is a symbol of?
What do you know about this statue?

An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty


Enter your response
What do you see or notice about this symbol?

What questions do you have about this symbol?

How does this symbol represent democracy?

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway - Mount Rushmore National Memorial


Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located in South Dakota. Nearly three million people visit it every year! Mount Rushmore is a sculpture that has been carved into the granite rock. It was carved by a man named Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum. It features the heads of four of the United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres.
Enter your response
What do you see or notice about this symbol?
What questions do you have about this symbol?
How does this symbol represent democracy?

An American Bald Eagle in the Roswell zoo


The Bald Eagle
The bald eagle is a symbol of freedom! The American bald eagle was chosen to be the symbol of the United States on June 20, 1782, because of its great beauty, strength, and long life and because it is a bird from North America. The bald eagle can be found on the back of some coins, on the Great Seal, and in other places representing the United States.
Enter your response
What do you see or notice about this symbol?
What questions do you have about this symbol?
How does this symbol represent democracy?

The White House


The White House
The White House is a symbol of freedom, democracy, our president, our country’s history, and the American people. Many years ago when our country was first created, the founders decided to build a house where the president would live and work. Then they built a city for our government. The city is Washington, D.C., which is now the nation’s capital. The White House is where the president works and lives. It is also where the leaders of our country meet. Visitors travel from all over the world to see the White House.
Enter your response
What do you see or notice about this symbol?
What questions do you have about this symbol?
How does this symbol represent democracy?

Design for the Verso of the Great Seal of the United States


The Great Seal of The United States of America
The Great Seal of the United States is used to authenticate certain documents issued by the United States government. The Great Seal was first used in 1782. Now you can find the Great Seal on United States passports, the one-dollar bill, military symbols, and some flags. The Great Seal represents our nation and shows that we are all united through our belief in democracy, strength, and freedom. Everything on the seal represents something special. For example, the American bald eagle symbolizes strength, and the olive branch and arrows show the power of peace.
Enter your response
Does anyone know what this statue is? Does anyone know what it is a symbol of? What do you know about this statue?



1

Activity Element

An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty

Page 1



2

Activity Element

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway - Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Page 1



3

Activity Element

An American Bald Eagle in the Roswell zoo

Page 1



4

Activity Element

The White House

Page 1



5

Activity Element

Design for the Verso of the Great Seal of the United States

Page 1



Conclusion

Principles of Democracy and Symbols of Citizenship

Making Connections

What makes a good citizen?

Create your own symbols that represent the principles of a good citizen. Discuss and share their symbols with your class.

Your Response




Document

An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty

1/1/1991

This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921 - 2008.
National Archives Identifier: 6459903
Full Citation: An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty; 1/1/1991; Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921 - 2008, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/an-aerial-view-of-the-statue-of-liberty, July 30, 2021]


An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty

Page 1



Document

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway - Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The profiles of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln etched into the cliff face mark one of the United States' most recognizable monuments, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Federal Highway Administration.
National Archives Identifier: 7721037
Full Citation: Photograph 406-NSB-104-Mount_Rushmore_National_Memorial_2.JPG; Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway - Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Digital Photographs Relating to America's Byways, ca. 1995 - ca. 2013; Records of the Federal Highway Administration, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/mount-rushmore, July 30, 2021]


Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway - Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Page 1



Document

An American Bald Eagle in the Roswell zoo

4/23/1995

This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921 - 2008.
National Archives Identifier: 6499633
Full Citation: An American Bald Eagle in the Roswell zoo; 4/23/1995; Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921 - 2008, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/an-american-bald-eagle-in-the-roswell-zoo, July 30, 2021]


An American Bald Eagle in the Roswell zoo

Page 1



Document

The White House

10/21/1977

This primary source comes from the Collection JC-WHSP: Carter White House Photographs Collection.
National Archives Identifier: 176587
Full Citation: The White House; 10/21/1977; Collection JC-WHSP: Carter White House Photographs Collection, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/1-the-white-house, July 30, 2021]


The White House

Page 1



Document

Design for the Verso of the Great Seal of the United States

1782

Just a few hours after the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, the first committee to design a seal for the United States was appointed, and its design began.

The committee members—Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams—prepared a very complicated design that was promptly tabled by Congress. However, one prominent feature of their design appeared in the design that was originally adopted—the motto E Pluribus Unum, "Out of Many, One."

In 1780, a second committee—James Lovell of Massachusetts and John Morin Scott and William Churchill Houston of Virginia—developed a second design, but it was also tabled by Congress. Like the first design, the second had elements that were later incorporated into the final seal, including the olive branch, the constellation of 13 stars, and the shield with red and white stripes on a blue field.

A third committee was appointed in May of 1782. This committee's design employed the eagle for the first time, in the crest.

Early in 1782, Congress referred the three designs to Secretary of the Continental Congress Charles Thompson. Thompson combined elements of all three previous attempts to make a fourth design. He made the eagle the focal point with its wings pointed down as if in flight. The shield on the eagle’s breast was blue with 13 red and white chevrons pointing up. His design was revised by William Barton, a Philadelphia student of heraldry, to create the current design.

Thompson submitted a written description of his final version to the Continental Congress that described the design and explained its symbolism. The Continental Congress approved and officially adopted this design on June 20, 1782.

The Great Seal of the United States is the symbol of our sovereignty as a nation. Its obverse is used on official documents to authenticate the signature of the President; and it appears on proclamations, warrants, treaties, and commissions of high officials of the government. The Great Seal's design, used as our national coat of arms, is also used officially as decoration on military uniform buttons, on plaques above the entrances to U.S. embassies an consulates, and in other places. Both the obverse and the less familiar reverse, which is never used as a seal, are imprinted on the one-dollar bill.

This document was featured in “Teaching with Documents : OurDocuments.gov” in the November/December 2002 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) publication Social Education.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention.
National Archives Identifier: 595257
Full Citation: Design for the Verso of the Great Seal of the United States; 1782; Reports on Administrative Affairs of the Congress; Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774 - 1789; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/design-verso-great-seal, July 30, 2021]


Design for the Verso of the Great Seal of the United States

Page 1