Declaring Rights: A Brief History with Documents / Edition 1

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Questions about the original meaning of the Bill of Rights remain a source of active concern and controversy in the twenty-first century. In order to help students consider the intentions of the first Constitutional amendments and the significance of declaring rights, Jack Rakove traces the tradition and describes the deliberations from which the Bill of Rights emerged.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312137342
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 10/15/1997
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 217
  • Sales rank: 524,811
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack N. Rakove is Coe Professor of History and American Studies and professor (by courtesy) of political science at Stanford University. His scholarly work concentrates on the creation of a national policy in Revolutionary America, the problem of ascertaining the "original meaning" on the Constitution, and the political career and thinking of James Madison. His most recent book, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (1996), won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in history. Rakove's other works include James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic (1990), Interpreting the Constitution: The Debate over Original Intent (1990), and The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretative History of the Continental Congress (1979). He contributes to numerous scholarly and legal journals and lectures both in the United States and abroad.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Rights across the Centuries


1. The Seventeenth-Century Background
English Precedents
American Precedents

2. Puzzels about Rights
Defining a Right
The Holders of Rights
The Threat to Rights
The Sources of Rights
The Form and Function of a Declaration of Rights
The Popularity of Rights-Talk

3. The Colonists' Appeal to Rights

4. The Legacy of 1689
Constraining the King
1. Convention Parliment, Declaration of Rights, February 12, 1688 o.s.

5. Rights in Resistance
Challenging the Stamp Act
2. Resolutions of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, October 29, 1765
Disputing the American Claim
3. Martin Howard,Jr., A Letter from a Gentleman at Halifax (1765)
Consitutional Rights in the British Tradition
4. John Adams, The Earl of Clarendon to William Pym, January 27, 1766
Declarations of Rights as Instruments of Negotiation
5. Contintental Congress, Declaration and Resolves, October 14, 1774

6. Rights in the First Constitutions
Constitutions: A New Definition
6. Four Letters on Interesting Subjects, 1776
Populist Suspicions
7. Resolutions of Concord, Massachusetts, October 21, 1776
Declaring Rights: The First Models
8. Thomas Jefferson, Third Draft of a Constitution for Virginia, Part IV, June 1776
9. Virginia Provincial Convention, Committee Draft of a Declaration of Rights, May 27, 1776
10. Pennsylvania Convention, Declaration of Rights, 1776
Massachusetts: A Final Example
11. A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1780
A Legislative Milestone
12. Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 1786


7. Madison and the Problem of Rights

8. Framing the Constitution

9. The Basic Positions Stated
A First Try at Amendments
13. Richard Henry Lee, Amendments Proposed to Congress, September 27, 1787
A Crucial Federalist Response
14. James Wilson, Statehouse Speech, October 6, 1787

10. The Anti-Federalist Case
The Traditional Position Restated
15. Brutus, Second Essay Opposing the Constitution, November 1, 1787
Rights and the Education of Citizens
16. Federal Farmer, Letter XVI, January 20, 1788

11. The Federalist Position
Can We Enumerate All Our Rights?
17. James Iredell, Speech in the North Carolina Ratification Convention, July 28, 1788

12. Madison and Jefferson: The Classic Exchange
Defending the Veto
18. James Madison, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787
The View From Paris
19. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787
20. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, July 31, 1788
Madison's Response
21. James Madison, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788
Jefferson's Common Sense
22. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, March 15, 1789

13. Framing the Bill of Rights
Madison's Statemanship
23. James Madison, Speech to the House of Representatives, June 8, 1789
Unweaving the Amendments
24. U.S. House of the Representatives, Constitutional Amendments Proposed to the Senate, August 24, 1789
Editorial Changes
25. U. S. Congress, Constitutional Amendments Proposed to the States, September 28, 1789
Residual Ambiguities

Epilogue: After Two Centuries


A Constitutional Chronology (1603-1791)
Questions for Consideration
Selected Bibliography


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