Recently, the seventh grade has been learning about the Constitution and how it was created. As part of this process, we reenacted the Constitutional Convention, although there was a catch. In our version, all the groups of people who lived in early America were represented, even the people who weren’t at the original convention. The roles that we used were Native Americans, enslaved and free African-Americans, white women, indentured servants and white workers, as well as the groups that were represented at the actual convention, such as the southern plantation owners and northern merchants and bankers.
We discussed two major issues during our version of the convention, the same issues that were discussed during the real convention, suffrage and slavery. Each group at the convention gave speeches about their opinions on each topic followed by an open debate. This procedure was carried out over two days.
There was a lot of preparation and planning before the convention itself began. Every group had a week’s worth of classes that we spent reading, researching, writing, and making deals with other groups of people that prepared us for the debates, speeches and proposals and gave us a very good idea of what the issues at the convention were in real life, as well as the reasons that the real convention took place.
The role that I played was an enslaved African-American, so my group mostly focused on the abolition of slavery. Other groups, such as the white women, were mostly focused on suffrage. Still more groups, such as the northern bankers and merchants, focused on both of these issues because the wealth of the roles they played depended on both issues. The arguments were very heated, with people constantly questioning the effectiveness of different systems that were being used during the time period of the colonies, and early America (money systems, elections, etc.).
I learned a lot from this experience. I learned how to look through a perspective that is not mine and how to better debate and give speeches. It was a great way to learn about the convention and the Constitution. It was a great experience, and I would love doing something like this again.