Lesson 7: What Basic Ideas about Government and Rights Did the State Constitutions Include?


Primary Sources


Two Treatises of Government--John Locke, 1689

From Wikipedia: The Two Treatises of Government was published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke. The First Treatise attacks the patriotic state, and the Second Treatise outlines his thoughts on civil society based on natural rights and contract theory.

Link: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Two_Treatises_of_Government


Constitution of Pennsylvania 1776

A highly democratic early constitution, creating a unicameral legislature, a council of censors, a legislatively elected judiciary and a legislatively elected president.

Link: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/pa08.asp


Declaration of Independence 1776

From Wikipedia: The United States Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American Colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire.

Link: http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/index.htm


James Madison - Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments

James Madison's thoughts on the separation of church and state.

Link: https://bit.ly/2pPvjz5


Montesquieu--The Spirit of Laws, 1748

In this political treatise Montesquieu advocates the idea that political and legal institutions ought to reflect the social and geographical character of each particular community, that governments need not be permanent.

Link: https://goo.gl/N4Lrkj


State Constitution

A link to each states' Constitution.

Link: http://www.constitution.org/cons/usstcons.htm


The Constitution of Massachusetts 1780

The Massachusetts Constitution provided the framework followed by the United States Constitution.

Link: http://bit.ly/tNYAR


Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom

From Wikipedia: The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was written in 1779 by Thomas Jefferson to place a separation between church and state. In 1786, the Virginia General Assembly enacted the statute into the state's law.

Link: https://bit.ly/2ofyAsA


Virginia Declaration of Rights

Virginia Declaration of Rights

Link: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/virginia.asp