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Essay Questions: The Creation of the Bill of Rights

Background Essay Questions

Guiding Questions: How does the Bill of Rights protect individual liberties and limit the power of government? How is this seen in our everyday lives?

  • I can identify the arguments for and against adding a bill of rights to the Constitution.
  • I can explain James Madison’s role in the development and passage of the Bill of Rights.

Directions: As you read each section of the background essay, highlight or underline key words and phrases. In the margins of each section, write an important idea or fact about that section. Then, write down an observation or question about that section. After reading and annotating the background essay, complete the following questions.

  1. What is the purpose of a bill of rights?
  2. What documents in English history established a tradition of declarations of rights?
  3. Who first proposed a bill of rights, and why was the proposal rejected?
  4. Who were the Anti-Federalists, and why did they want a bill of rights?
  5. Who were the Federalists, and why did they think a bill of rights was unnecessary?
  6. Who emerged as the champion for a bill of rights in the First Congress? Why was this surprising?
  7. Explain why the passage of the Bill of Rights is an example of compromise, friendship, and moderation.

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