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The Origins of Our Commercial Republic

  • What is property?
  • How should property be protected?
  • How did the Framers of the Constitution protect property rights and commerce?
  • Why did the Framers include economic rights in the Constitution and Bill of Rights?

Students will understand and explain the constitutional principles related to property, liberty, and self-government.

Student Handouts

  • The Origins of Our Commercial Republic Essay
  • Handout A: Excerpts from John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government (1689)
  • Handout B: James Madison “Property” (1792)
  • Handout C: Excerpts from the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights

Educator Resources

  • Handout C: Excerpts from the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights Answer Key

  • checks and balances
  • justice
  • John Locke
  • property
  • separation of powers
  • liberty
  • Founders
  • Constitution
  • James Madison
  • federalism
  • natural rights
  • tyranny
  • Articles of Confederation
  • republic
  • Bill of Rights
  • Benjamin Franklin

Have students read The Origins of Our Commercial Republic Essay and then generate a list of all of the things they think could be defined as “property.”

Ask students to do a quick write responding to the following questions:

  1.  What is property?
  2. How is property protected?

Then briefly discuss student responses

Have students read Handout A: Excerpts from John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government and Handout B: James Madison “Property” (1792).

Have students create their own graphic organizer to compare and contrast Locke and Madison. They should concentrate on how each author defines property and how each author thinks property should be protected.

 

Have students read Handout C: Excerpts from the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and answer the questions following the excerpts.

Students should discuss with a partner the ways in which the Framers of the Constitution protected property rights and commerce in the document.

Explain that civil and economic rights are both protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For example, freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment and copyrights are protected in Article I, Section 8. Hold a class discussion about why both civil and economic rights need to be protected, or ask students to write an essay explaining which civil and economic rights are protected by the Constitution and why protecting them is important.

Students will write an essay explaining which civil and economic rights are protected by the Constitution and why protecting them is important.

Have students use their learnings from the above activities about property, to an analysis of the debate over Eminent Domain.


Next Lesson

The Early Commercial Republic, 1789-1815