U.S. History Classroom Activity
E Pluribus Unum

Linda Romano, 2008 Teacher of the Year and Social Studies Department Chair at Derby High School, Derby, CT, introduces her U.S. History students to the phrase E Pluribus Unum. She uses this phrase again and again throughout the year with her students. It’s an especially valuable technique to use before you teach the Civil War and into Reconstruction and through the Civil Rights era. This exercise helps students explore how our national identity evolved. It allows students to see what groups are included and have been excluded throughout our history beginning with the founders. “We the People,” in 1787 when the Constitution was ratified were white, male, Protestant, property holders. The years of our history since the Constitution’s ratification can be defined by the belief, and the struggle, and the becoming of all of us into “We the People.” We need to educate our students to the fact that it is our uniquely American beliefs that make us a nation. These intangible, strongly adopted and held beliefs, make us Americans and create our national identity. Ours is a precious and unique heritage in a harsh, exclusionary world.

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Former President Jimmy Carter said, "We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams." Jesse Jackson said, "America is not like a blanket - one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt - many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven together by a common thread."
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Lesson idea by Linda Romano. Words and format by Carolyn Ivanoff