Part II: Gold, Greed and Government (continued)

and hundreds of special-interest groups. How can we balance majority rights with minority rights? Is a policy of inclusion really more beneficial than one that allows a few exceptions for the benefit of the larger society? 

Do your students realize that California now is composed of so many different ethnic groups that we will soon have no ethnic majority? What do they think about this? Do they welcome the prospect, or do they look with dismay upon such a possibility? Will this minority-population state be able to function peacefully and with relative prosperity for all? How will your students, as adults and decision makers for the state, deal with divisive issues? 

With knowledge about our past, students have the opportunity to recognize the significance of present issues and to understand that decisions made today, like those of the past, will have far-reaching consequences. The events of the past can continue to influence the present. 

Focus Questions:

How were the values of Californians in 1849 and in the 1850s reflected in the state's constitution and laws? What significant role did California play in the Compromise of 1850? 

Framework Connections:

"The Divergent Paths of the American People1800-1850: The West should be studied for its deep influence on the politics, economy, mores, and culture of the nation." (History-Social Science Framework, p. 70); "Toward a More Perfect Union: students concentrate on the causes and consequences of the Civil Warhow the issue of slavery [and diversity today] eventually became too divisive to ignore or tolerate. They should understand the significance of such events as the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850the basic challenge to the Constitution." (History-Social Science Framework, p. 73) 

Student Learnings:

a. Students will learn how to take a scientific poll, and will determine which presidents during this period (1848-1860) might be ranked among the great presidents in U.S. history. 

b. Students will learn how and why California became the first of the Mexican Cession territories to become a state. 

c. Students will learn that the values of the California Americans were reflected in the state constitution. 

d. Students will learn that law and order in the new state reflected the needs and the values of the political majority. 

e. Students will learn that California's application for statehood threatened to upset the balance between free and slave states, and that portions of the compromise measure by which California became a state helped to preserve the Union for 10 years, but did not settle the major issues. These eventually resulted in the War Between the States. 

A Brief Look at the Lessons:

The preliminary exercise (Presidential Poll) is included to give students an opportunity to reflect on what, in people's opinion, makes a president great. Events from 1846 to 1865 profoundly affected the history of California and the nation; yet no president other than Lincoln receives much recognition. James K. Polk (the president most closely associated with the concept of Manifest Destiny and who was instrumental in enlarging our national boundary to include all of the western states from Washington down to Texas) is seldom acknowledged. This exercise 

Part II, Overview 
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