by James Madison
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
The Code of Hammurabi
- 1772 BCE
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code of ancient Mesopotamia that dates back to about 1772 B.C. Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king, enacted The Code, which consists of 282 laws and corresponding punishments (depending on social status). The notion of trial by ordeal actually has some foundation in this ancient set of laws.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “The Code of Hammurabi” and instruct students to compare these historical documents—how are they similar? How do they differ? Consider whose rights are not secured in either documents, and ask the students to discuss how this compares to their concept of fairness.
- John Locke
In this document by British philosopher John Locke, Locke argues for individual sacrifice so that people can live peacefully in a political society. Locke’s philosophical works heavily influenced American revolutionaries and the formation of democracy.Pair "Political Society" with the Bill of Rights to generate a discussion surrounding the inherent tensions between individuality and national government. How can a government protect the rights of individuals, and also make laws that govern them?
Excerpt from The Prince
- Niccoló Machiavelli
Niccoló Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian Renaissance historian, politician, and writer based in Florence. His masterpiece, The Prince, published in 1532, advises new princes on how to get and retain power by any means necessary.Pair the Bill of Rights with this excerpt from “The Prince” to illustrate the difference between a monarchy and democracy. Why can Americans generally feel that they can live without fear of their government?
Act for Establishing Religious Freedom
- Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson drafted this bill in 1779, and James Madison saw to it that the Virginia legislature passed it in 1786. In it, Jefferson makes an argument for religious freedom in the United States.Pair “Thomas Jefferson’s Act for Establishing Religious Freedom” with the “The Bill of Rights” in order to compare how these documents frame religious freedom. How have these documents shaped the way America is today?
Puritan Laws and Character
- Henry William Elson
In “Puritan Laws and Character,” historian Henry William Elson discusses the Puritans, their laws, and the impact they made on early America.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “Puritan Laws and Character” and ask students to discuss the evolution of government from the colonial period to the very beginning of the United States. How would Puritan governors have responded to the First Amendment, especially regarding the separation of church and state?
Stop and Frisk: Right or Wrong?
- Mike Kubic
This article examines the rationale behind “Stop and Frisk,” a controversial law enforcement tactic, and the impact of its decline.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “Stop and Frisk: Right or Wrong?” and lead students in a discussion on the tension between freedom and security. Can the United States ensure the freedom of its citizens, as defined in “The Bill of Rights,” while also enhancing their security?
High Court Reviews Insanity-Defense Case
- Nina Totenberg
This NPR news transcript discusses whether the Supreme Court will accept the “insanity defense” when a schizophrenic man shoots an officer.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “High Court Reviews Insanity Defense Case” and discuss how the legal system has evolved or remained the same since the Constitution was written. Do students think these aspects of the justice system are fair?
The Founding of American Democracy
- Jessica McBirney
The Constitution was formed to protect the rights of citizens and states more than 200 years ago, and it is still the basis of our government today.Pair “The Founding of America Democracy” with “The Bill of Rights” and ask students to think of ways in which the Bill of Rights protects them or affects their lives on a day to day basis, and whether they think the bill properly protected citizens’ rights at the time.
Why Does No One Ever Thank Me for the Magna Carta?
- BirdBrain History
In “Why Does No One Ever Thank Me for the Magna Carta?” King John reflects on why everyone should thank him for signing the Magna Carta.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “Why Does No One Ever Thank Me for the Magna Carta?” and ask students to discuss how the Magna Carta served as a model for future documents on human rights.
Hate Speech and the First Amendment
- American Bar Association
In “Hate Speech and the First Amendment: Debating the ‘Mighty Constitutional Opposites,’” the American Bar Association discusses the conflicting nature of attempting to regulate hate speech without treading on the right to freedom of speech.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “Hate Speech and the First Amendment: Debating the ‘Mighty Constitutional Opposites’” to provide students with additional information regarding the rights of citizens. Can you identify other rights that the government may regulate when attempting to maintain peace and security?
The Economic Bill of Rights
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt
In this historical speech, "The Economic Bill of Rights," former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt discusses the importance of ensuring that the basic needs of all citizens are met.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “The Economic Bill of Rights” and have students consider whether or not the former is a natural extension of the latter. How do the two compare in terms of tone? Consider the conditions under which each document arose. Do you believe all enumerated rights have been adequately protected in the United States throughout history? Have the documents actually been useful in protecting the ideals they take up?
Articles of Confederation
- The Continental Congress
The Articles of Confederation are a historic governing document detailing the agreement between the original 13 states of the United States; it preceded the U.S. Constitution.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “Articles of Confederation” and ask students to discuss the values that each document represents. How does each document address the issues of freedom and security, and what historical events explain the differences in how each document approaches these issues?
The St. Petersburg Workmen's Petition to the Tsar, January 22, 1905
- George Gapon
In “The St. Petersburg Workmen’s Petition to the Tsar, January 22, 1905,” George Gapon requests that Nicholas II grant certain rights and protection to citizens in Russia.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “The St. Petersburg Workmen’s Petition to the Tsar, January 22, 1905” and ask students to discuss the rights outlined in the two texts. How are the rights that George Gapon wants similar to the rights outlined in “The Bill of Rights”?
The Bill of Rights in a Changing America
- Ben Slivnick
In the informational text “The Bill of Rights in a Changing America”, Ben Slivnick discusses how Supreme Court justices reinterpret the Bill of Rights while attempting to remain true to its guiding principles.Pair “The Bill of Rights” with “The Bill of Rights in a Changing America” to provide students with the contents of the original document discussed in Ben Slivnick’s text. Ask students to discuss the original wording of the amendments Slivnick references. Do students think that the amendments, as they were originally written, are open to interpretation or are clearly black and white? Ask students to explain their reasoning.