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3.6 Identify the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as key American documents.


external image Agregateur_Poietique.gifSee Massachusetts frameworks 5.16 and USI.3 for more on the Declaration of Independence and important American documents.


The Declaration of Independence: July 4, 1776
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  • Stated that men have "inalienable rights" that the founding fathers felt had been violated by Great Britain
  • Believed that everyone "endowed by their Creator" had the right for "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness"
  • Stated that the people have a right to cut ties with a government that they feel is unjust
  • Stated that the colonists had endured sufficient amounts of intolerable acts that deemed their separation from its mother country justifiable
  • Listed the acts and laws that Great Britain had passed that many colonists disagreed with
  • Stated that the British should not be surprised by the colonies' announcement because they had been warned numerous times that their acts were intolerable

Multimedia.pngClick here to listen to the Declaration of Independence sung by the Fifth Dimension

Multimedia.pngClick here to view a short video on The Declaration of Independence, "America the Story of Us: Declaration of Independence"

primary_sources.PNGClick here to read the history of the Declaration of Independence and click here to read it

Click here to read different annotations to the Declaration of Independence, using historical context, principles, and a glossary.

lessonplan.jpgClick here for lesson plans and activities on the Declaration of Independence
timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of the Declaration of Independence

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The Constitution: 1787

In 1787, a group of men met to write the Constitution. We call these men the Framers of the Constitution.
Some of the famous Framers included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. The document they created frames the laws and government of the United States.

The Bill of Rights was the first ten changes made to the Constitution.

primary_sources.PNGClick here to read the Constitution

Click here to read an annotated version of the Constitution
timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of the Constitution

Multimedia.pngSee Schoolhouse Rock's version of the preamble to the Constitution
game_icon.svg.pngClick here to play "Madison's Notes are Missing" a game in which you attend a Constitutional Convention and investigate the questions they considered.
game_icon.svg.pngPlay the Constitution match game here.


lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan on the Constitution.
lessonplan.jpgClick here for activities and quizzes on the Constitution from the Bill of Rights Institute.



The Bill of Rights:

  • The Bill of Rights were added to the constitution to protect the rights of the American people and to limit the power of government.
    One of the Founding Fathers, George Mason, felt that the Bill of Rights would serve and important purpose in calming the American people.
    One of the Founding Fathers, George Mason, felt that the Bill of Rights would serve and important purpose in calming the American people.
  • One of the "Founding Fathers" George Mason felt that listing natural rights would serve to calm down the people who were fearful of a powerful central government.
  • It was also used as a bargaining chip, for in many ways it helped convinced the Anti-Federalists to ratify the Constitution.
  • Here are the declared freedoms in the Bill of Rights:
  1. Freedom of speech, religion, an the press.
  2. Right to bear arms.
  3. No soldier should be quartered, or lawfully placed in the home of a citizen during time of peace.
  4. Security against unlawful searches or seizures.
  5. Right to a trial if accused, no self-incrimination required, no double-jeopardy.
  6. The right to a speedy and public trial.
  7. The right to a trial by jury.
  8. Excessive bail, fines, and cruel and punishment will not be imposed.
  9. Then naming of certain constitutional rights are not meant to deny others retained by the people.
  10. Powers not mentioned in the Constitution will be given to the states or the people.


Here are some ideas for worksheets and activities on the Constitution provided by enchantedlearning.com

lessonplan.jpgClick here, here and here for lesson plans on the Bill of Rights.

game_icon.svg.pngClick here for a Bill of Rights game.
timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of the Bill of Rights.