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The Three Branches of Government

Primary Source

Step by Step cartoon
Step by Step
Billy Warren, 1937
The Buffalo News

For More Information


“From the nature of man we may be sure, that those who have power in their hands will not give it up while they can retain it. On the contrary we know they will always when they can rather increase it. ”

—George Mason, from James Madison's "Notes on the Debates of the Federal Convention," Wednesday, July 11, 1787. The Avalon Project.

New Products

Lesson Plans

Designed equally for the English classroom and for ELA instruction in the history classroom, these units use guided close readings of historical nonfiction to set the stage for students to respond with their own guided writing. After analyzing the persuasive, narrative, and expository writing techniques used in the featured primary source documents, and after reading additional historical documents that equip students to make cross-text comparisons, students respond by writing their own persuasive, narrative, or expository essays. Grades 8-12.

Declaring Independence CD-ROM $19.95
The Trail of Tears CD-ROM $19.95
Stories of Immigration CD-ROM $19.95

Complete Set: 3 CD-ROMs $54.95

To order, call 1-800-761-8331 or email

Teaching Strategy

Who Has the Power?

Each of the three branches of the United States government plays an important role in keeping the leaders of our country accountable and our system fair and just. In this lesson students will review the system of checks and balances and apply their knowledge to historical situations. They will identify the branches that were involved in each event and how the branches checked each other’s power.

Upcoming Electronic Field Trip

The Balance of Power EFT
The Balance of Power
November 7, 2013

Upcoming Connect Events

All November long, we are celebrating the Grand Opening of the Armoury on Nov. 16! Watch video, read articles, download podcasts and more at

Free Resources


The Virtual Republic is a free online resource where young citizens discuss current policy issues and suggest solutions to improve their community and world. It can be used as a companion to Colonial Williamsburg’s The Idea of America curriculum, or as a stand-alone resource. Go to and register your class today!

Gift to the Nation

Teacher Community

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The Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip Series is supported in part
by the William and Gretchen Kimball Young Patriots Fund.


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