42 Matching Annotations
  1. Apr 2018
    1. So far it is from being true, that a bill of rights is less necessary in the general constitution than in those of the states, the contrary is evidently the fact. — This system, if it is possible for the people of America to accede to it, will be an original compact; and being the last, will, in the nature of things, vacate every former agreement inconsistent with it. For it being a plan of government received and ratified by the whole people, all other forms, which are in existence at the time of its adoption, must yield to it. This is expressed in positive and unequivocal terms, in the 6th article, “That this constitution and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution, or laws of any state, to the contrary notwithstanding.

      Would probably try to address the following w/ my students. Was Brutus correct (in either the short term or the long run)? Did this clause of the Constitution supersede or usurp state gov't authority? If so, specific historical examples and or Supreme court precedent cases??

    1. Men, in some countries do not remain free, merely because they are entitled to natural and unalienable rights; men in all countries are entitled to them, not because their ancestors once got together and enumerated them on paper, but because, by repeated negociations and declarations, all parties are brought to realize them, and of course to believe them to be sacred.

      Absolutely love this passage! I think this document and the counterpoint found in the previous document would be very useful in helping students grasp what amendments 9 & 10 were all about. Students tend to really buy into Amendment one and four because they have immediate relevance to most teenagers. Amendment 2 always generates interest and disagreements between students and has, unfortunately been very much in the news each school year. Amendment 3 does not hold much allure, but is easy to comprehend. Older H.S. students tend to have enough life experience to understand how 5 - 8 might affect them, or at least have watched enough movies & television courtroom dramas to realize how the rights of the accused matter. When it comes to 9 & 10 they seem to be the quickest to forget after we've moved along through our coursework. I think these last two documents may help to resolve some of that.

    1. authority which was not given

      It would be my hope that, if I had done my job correctly at this point, one of my students would raise the question of the elastic clause in response to Hamilton's repetition of "authority which was not given". If not, it would suggest the need to back up and work through that again!

    2. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?

      Would lead the discussion in a couple of directions in my class. First, is Hamilton correct that a gov't couldn't usurp in an area it had not been given power? Has history borne him out? What would the anti federalist rebuttal probably sound like? What do you think?

    1. identical to that in the 8th amendment

      Students might find it interesting, after spending time learning about the Bill of Rights, to then examine this document for similarities and possible origins. After teaching our U.S. Bill of Rights usually provide an outlined overview of the rights (& clauses) for students to use in reviewing for our exam. At that point in our class, I think students would be able to successfully comb the English Bill of Rights for similarities.

    1. The ultimate response to this abuse was the Fourth Amendment

      Also effective context for students, allowing them a sense of connection between this document and the Bill of Rights before they engage in the heavy lifting of close reading the document.

    2. “Writs of Assistance” were general warrants that allowed British officials to search any property suspected of having contrabrand goods.  Colonial experience of and resistance to these writs informed the fourth amendment’s demand that a valid warrant must “particularly describ[e] the place to be searched.”

      Appreciate that this passage clearly defines "Writs of assistance" for students and teachers, helping to get a class quickly launched into this reading and able to connect it to the evolution of the Bill of Rights.

    3. Every one with this writ may be a tyrant; if this commission be legal, a tyrant in a legal manner, also, may control, imprison, or murder any one within the realm. In the next place, it is perpetual; there is no return. A man is accountable to no person for his doings. Every man may reign secure in his petty tyranny, and spread terror and desolation around him,

      It might be interesting to provide a synopsis of the patriot act alongside these remarks by Otis and ask students to answer the question (that may be overused in my classroom and in my editing of these documents) did Otis's fears come true? What might he say about the patriot act. Would there have been any counter arguments to Otis in his day and would those still serve as the counter arguments in our own time?

    1. If the clause stands as it is now, it will take from the state legislatures what divine Providence has given to every individual–the means of self-defence. Unless it be moderated in some degree, it will ruin us, and introduce a standing army.

      A very interesting passage. References to the central gov't, state gov't & the individual citizen concerning the right to self protection. Note the suggestion that it is a right provided to every individual by "Providence" This has implications in the debate over whether the right to arms is "collective" or individual (or both).

    2. The most effectual way to guard against a standing army, is to render it unnecessary. The most effectual way to render it unnecessary, is to give the general government full power to call forth the militia, and exert the whole natural strength of the Union, when necessary.

      Once again, looking at things today, a good question for H.S. discussions = can the national government mobilize state reserve units today and, if so, can you find an example from the news or recent history?

      An additional question, which also vexed the founders, = if the national government can call forth the militias - does that run the risk of militias being "morphed" into a standing army.

      A kind of intriguing insight here might be what happened at Tiannamen square a few years ago. The first time the troops were sent in, they refused to crush the protesters violently, at least partially due to the fact that there were people among the demonstrators that the troops knew personally, or knew their parents and families. The subsequent troops were "imported" from more distant provinces, and of course, violent repression ensued. I regret that I do not have proper documentation of this phenomenon, merely my recollection of the events & my readings as things were happening in real time. I provide them, because I would be likely to share those remarks with students in the context of this reading and / or discussions of militias, standing armies , the use of Hessian mercenaries by the British during the revolution, etc, etc. I also like to point this out (among other things) when discussing Shay's rebellion.

    3. a standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen
    4. Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain,

      This reference might deserve a footnote and citation of what legislation from 40 years before is being referenced

    5. yeomanry

      yeomanry defined? (simply as citizen farmers who worked their own land rather than plantation owners etc) Young readers unfamiliar with the term might be confused here.

    1. a general verdict, when a special one might, with propriety, have been found.

      I'm not understanding the distinction being made between a general or special verdict. It appears it would make the intent of the writer clearer.

    2. This, and the democratic branch in the legislature, as was formerly observed, are the means by which the people are let into the knowledge of public affairs

      Would be inclined to stop & "knowledge check" my students --> What does the writer mean by the phrase "democratic branch of the legislature"?

    1. deprived or dispossessed

      Would be inclined to have students lay Amendment 5 alongside this document (after gaining previous familiarity w/ amend 5) and look for ideas / passages that might be interpreted as providing the roots of amend. 5

      In addition, a teacher might choose to point to the features of the Magna Carta that arguably reflect the nature of Grand Juries in the 20th century - this idea taken from attending the 2017 -18 American Democracy Educator Forum w/ Dr. John Zumbrunnen.

    2. The Magna Carta, of course, was not a democratic document, but a promise Prince John made to the nobles of England to limit his power over them.

      Happy this distinction was made here. I have bumped into many students who were under the impression when they arrived in my class that the Magna Carta gave rights to (all) the people in England. Glad that misconception is dispelled in the introduction.

    1. A Mans Covenant Not To Defend Himselfe, Is Voyd

      I understand and appreciate this passage to provide context for 5th amendment protections against self incrimination. I think having it included may prove useful for some teachers. As for my classroom, I found this document very difficult to read, and I feel it is too convoluted or cryptic to be used with my high school students. Knowing the calculus involved in managing the amount of subject material within the school calendar, this work would take far too much "scaffolding" to make the investment of time worth the takeaway for students.

      The protection against self incrimination found in Amendment Five is a critical understanding for all students and citizens. As I write this (4/26/18), the New York Times and Wall Street Journal both included articles this morning regarding President Trump's long time personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen's decision yesterday to "assert my 5th Amendment rights . . . " I do not believe a student reading Hobbes passage from chapter 14 here would be a good "cost / benefit" decision for a classroom.

    1. The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal government.

      I have highlighted numerous passages in this document as I would annotate for my students in A.P. Government class. We would probably use this in the very last unit of our course where we glance briefly at state governments, and revisit the nature of federalism.

    1. there may be occasion for marching and quartering of regiments and companies of his Majesty’s forces in several parts of his Majesty’s dominions in America:

      Presumably the "takeaway" for the concept of quartering is pretty simple for most H.S. classrooms compared to the complexity and utility that H.S. teachers would plan for the other amendments. Therefore I would be inclined to highlight (as I've done here) a few lines that would help students jump to a useful understanding more quickly. This is simply the type of "triage" that teachers have to use if they are mindful of how much needs to be covered in the course of a year or semester.

    2. reception of his Majesty’s forces, such and so many uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings, as shall be necessary, to quarter therein the residue of such officers and soldiers for whom there should not be room in such barracks and publick houses as aforesaid

      Messy typo here

    1. militias

      Within the collective vs. individual right debate is the issue of just what constitutes a militia. If one relies upon "originalism" then the definition of a militia during the founder's era would provide a useful insight.

      Suggested resource to investigate that question = The Militia Act of 1792 to be found at "A Century of Lawmaking for the New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents & Debates 1774 - 1875 ----Statutes at Large, 2nd Congress, 1st Session (Ch. 33) "every citizen so enrolled . . . provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet, . . . ."

    2. In contemporary debates, gun control advocates often respond to assertion of second amendment individual rights to gun ownership by emphasizing the amendment’s reference to a “well regulated militia.”

      Hopefully this suggestion will be accepted in the spirit it is offered (gently!) and if acted upon, would not lengthen the intro too much, but rather help clarify the "anticipatory set" of the reading. Although the first sentence is quite accurate, as someone who has been doing extensive reading on the 2nd Amendment lately, I had to re - read this to be sure I understood the assertion. Bouncing back & forth from references to 1) gun control advocates 2) individual rights to gun ownership and back to 3) reference to a well regulated militia is likely to confuse H.S. readers who may have little interest or grasp of the ideas.

      Suggest: First of all - since it is so brief, it might be useful to actually provide the complete wording of Amendment Two. (Perhaps above the green "About this text" box.)

      Secondly - a note suggesting that gun control advocates tend to focus upon the "militia" clause while gun owner rights advocates often prefer to focus on the second clause re: right to own.

      Thirdly - a (brief) suggestion that the two sides do not even agree upon what constitutes a "militia" and that the context and historical evidence for each side's arguments are lengthy and complex.

      The second sentence beginning " In the excerpt below, is critical to help set the context of the reading, however, there seems to be room to minimize the verbiage without losing meaning.

    1. Thus the grass my horse has bit; the turfs my servant has cut; and the ore I have digged in any place, where I have a right to them in common with others, become my property, without the assignation or consent of any body. The labour that was mine, removing them out of that common state they were in, hath fixed my property in them.

      It would be very interesting to discuss this and the surrounding passages in light of the armed standoff that occurred in either Oregon or Washington about a year ago regarding the use of federal lands for grazing purposes by the local ranchers.

    2. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.

      Useful passage to point out the tension between "Civic virtue and the responsibility to the greater good (see end of passage) vs. individual property rights. Useful to frame discussions re: natural parks, utilitarian vs. preservationist perspectives on environmental policies, taxation policies & burdens, entitlements etc etc.

    1. Nay if we may openly speak the Truth and as becomes one Man to another; neither Pagan, nor Mahumetan, [59] nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the Civil Rights of the Commonwealth, because of his Religion.158

      I was taken by just how clearly Locke, in the 17th century, speaks in support of religious diversity and a separation between church and state (I highlighted many remarks and passages in this work). This will be a powerful document to allow students to read in conjunction with the first amendment.

    2. Lastly, Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the Being of a God. Promises, Covenants, and Oaths, which are the Bonds of Humane [53] Society, can have no hold upon an Atheist.138 The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all. Besides also, those that by their Atheism undermine and destroy all Religion, can have no pretence of Religion whereupon to challenge the Privilege of a Toleration. As for other Practical Opinions, though not absolutely free from all Error, yet if they do not tend to establish Domination over others, or Civil Impunity to the Church in which they are taught, there can be no Reason why they should not be tolerated.
    3. Animadversion,

      Animadversion ???????

    1. liberty to human happiness.

      I've often wondered why, and often had to be sure my students understood, that Jefferson used "the pursuit of happiness" rather than Locke's more direct reference to property rights. Obviously Mill wrote after Jefferson, so my question is did Jefferson borrow this "utilitarian" adaptation from any particular writer or thinker and were Mill & Bentham reading the same literature years later. Just curious.

    1. Here’s a video presentation about navigating the Interactive Constitution:

      Video will be useful, however, I would be inclined to use it only in segments rather than showing it in its entirety. While the eleven and one half minutes of background before actually getting to the Bill of Rights is justified, it makes the video too long for those of us who are inclined to use video as a class opener, quick review etc to supplement, rather than replace, a discussion. I will definitely use the assorted parts of this video for those purposes in my classroom.

      Really liked the fact that it went on to bring in amendment 14 and the doctrine of incorporation.

       A mild, and hopefully constructive observation.  The video does a nice job of "clustering" some of the amendments suggesting that they were designed to work together or compliment each other (such as 3,4,& 5 or 5 - 8 etc) fair enough.  But significant by omission is the lack of that same suggestion re: that 1,2, 3, & 4 were intentionally grouped together as well (although that might raise controversy, however, so does its omission!) 

      I offer the following passage from p. 89 the 2nd Amendment Primer by Les Adams in which he sights the musings of historian Don Kates (who in turn is referring to Blackstone) "It helps to explain . . . why the right of arms [of the 2nd Amendment] is preceded by the rights of religion expression, press & petition . . . then followed by the guarantee against quartering . . . follwed, in turn by protection vs. unreasonable searches and seizures . . ." Adams cites Kates" The Second Amendment and the Ideology of Self - Protection, 9 Const. Commentary 89

    1. The origination of governments from a contract is a pure fiction, or in other words, a falsehood. It never has been known to be true in any instance; the allegation of it does mischief, by involving the subject in error and confusion, and is neither necessary nor useful to any good purpose.

      As with the other documents and writers, it is interesting to consider whether or not history has validated or contradicted the assertions of the author. Useful to remind students of the notion of "common law"

    2. terrorist

      What does Bentham's continued use of this term suggest about his politics and his place in society. Are there analogous terms & usages today and do they reveal the same perspectives now as during Bentham's time?

    3. We know what it is for men to live without government

      Bentham's view of "state of nature" aligns nicely with Hobbes. It would be useful to remind students of the way in which the vision of "State of Nature" leads to conclusions regarding what Social Contract should be. I would ask students who Madison might agree with, or at least who he seems to have taken into consideration. ( "If men were perfect . . .")

    4. That there are such things as rights anterior to the establishment of governments: for natural, as applied to rights, if it mean anything, is meant to stand in opposition to legal—to such rights as are acknowledged to owe their existence to government, and are consequently posterior in their date to the establishment of governmen

      Useful to ask students to examine this paragraph and compare it to Locke & his version of social contract or natural rights theory. Also useful in AP government when exploring elite, pluralist and super-pluralist models and of course, ask students to apply those understandings to analyze where Bentham may fit according to this passage.

    1. The public papers will be expeditious messengers of intelligence to the most remote inhabitants of the Union.

      Many useful and interesting ideas swirl around this and the nearby paragraphs and passages relating to the role of the media in American government. First - The A.P. Gov't exam, textbooks etc. The College board is fond of, and expects students to know and understand the following:

      1. The role of media as a "linkage institution" between citizens and the gov't.
        1. The role of media in "agenda setting" i.e. deciding which issues / events will be put in front of the public.
        2. The tendency toward "horse race journalism" which focuses upon who leads in the polls rather than what their principles and positions on significant issues might be.

      Secondly: I would be inclined to introduce students to this passage after a look at the history and influence of the media in politics & gov't especially as it has made political parties less crucial for candidates hoping to achieve nominations and elections (this is also a notion that the college board will deliver in its test questions)

      Finally - in some of my other research, I came across this quotation by English editor Roger L'Estrange in THE INTELLIGENCER (Aug 3rd 1663) as quoted by Les Adams in his book THE SECOND AMENDMENT PRIMER on p. 115 "A public newspaper makes the multitude too familiar with the actions and councils of its superiors . . . and gives them, not only an itch, but a kind of colourable right and license to be meddling with the government" Perhaps a nice aristocratic counter position to lay alongside the remarks of Brutus concerning the media!

    2. But there is another circumstance of great importance in the view of economy. The business of the United States has hitherto occupied the State legislatures, as well as Congress. The latter has made requisitions which the former have had to provide for.

      Useful to circle back to these remarks after introducing the concept of "unfunded mandates" to H.S. students.

    3. entirely void of foundation, the of fspring of extreme ignorance or extreme dishonesty. In addition


    4. Their disposition to apprise the community of whatever may prejudice its interests from another quarter, may be relied upon, if it were only from the rivalship of power.

      This passage seems to concur, and provide a specific example of Madison's assertion of the need for "ambition to counter act ambition". It might be fun for students to have the chance to see the convergence of these thoughts along the way!

    5. the

      Is this a typo that occurred during transcription?

    1. Both Hobbes and Locke describe human beings as equal in the state of nature.  How do their understandings of equality in the state of nature differ?

      This question works well to help students compare the ideas of Hobbes & Locke (which are part of what I ask students to think of as the "bookshelf" or perhaps today the twitter feeds, etc. of the founders)! When working with H.S. students, I find it is useful to ask them to point out specific evidence or passages from documents we are using to support their assertions. While this may go without saying for college students, high school students sometimes need that directive to help them develop that habit rather than offer a more "intuitive" contribution to the discussion or writing prompt.

      For the high school student, many teachers (myself included) often ask the students early in the course to reflect upon, and define pivotal concepts such as "equality" to provide an anchor point before wrestling with what Hobbes, Locke, et. al have to say. It has been my experience that they are pleased with themselves any time their own thought process aligns with the political philosophers they are being introduced to. Any traction of that nature usually helps to encourage them to entertain the possibility that course content is relevant to their own lives.

      Please advise if my suggestions regarding the high school classroom are not the direction you are seeking in this editing / reflection process.

    1. Let him therefore consider with himself: when taking a journey, he arms himself and seeks to go well accompanied; when going to sleep, he locks his doors; when even in his house he locks his chests; and this when he knows there be laws and public officers, armed, to revenge all injuries shall be done him; what opinion he has of his fellow subjects, when he rides armed; of his fellow citizens,

      Knowing that the founders were mindful of Hobbes, is it also possible that this (pessimistic) passage might have been among the considerations behind the second amendment? An additional document with an interesting passage relating to armed citizenry arguments (for those interested in that question) might be found in the English Bill of Rights (1689) " . . . subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense . . ." Does this passage have anything to do with the 2nd amendment appearing immediately after the establishment and free exercise clauses of Amendment one? http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp[](http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp)

    2. So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.  

      Presumably a typo since the same sentence is printed twice??