- Declaration of Independence
Justice For All Activity: The Foundations of American Justice
Have students read the excerpts from the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Petition of Right, and the English Bill of Rights provided in Handouts A-D. They can do this individually, in groups, or for homework.
The students should look for ways in which the documents promote justice and protect the people; they should think about ways in which the ideas in these documents led to the American Founding Documents; and they should complete Handout E: Comparing the Documents.
After students have completed the reading and Handout E, conduct a class discussion on the ways in which the documents they read are similar to or different from each other. Ask the class to think about what ideas or principles from these documents were used in the American Founding documents.
Justice For All Activity: Comparing Locke and Montesquieu
Have students read the Handout F: Excerpts from John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690) and Handout G: Excerpts from Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws (1748) Students should concentrate on the ways in which both authors think about liberty, justice, and rights and record their findings on Handout H: Comparing Locke and Montesquieu.
After students have read the excerpts and completed Handout H, have them write a short essay in response to this prompt: Many of the Founders read the writings of Locke and Montesquieu. How did the Founders incorporate Locke and Montesquieu’s ideas into the Founding Documents?