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The Origins of Our Commercial Republic

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

The Origins of Our Commercial Republic Activity: John Locke, James Madison, and the U.S. Constitution

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.

Students should then read Handout C: Excerpts from the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and answer the questions following the excerpts. They 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.