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Four Primary Sources—Underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence
Class Length: 1 Class Meeting
Objectives:Students will be able to:
Identify the key ideas in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence : natural rights, the social contract, the right to revolution, popular sovereignty, and the right of self-determination
Explain that other contemporary documents contained similar themes
Materials:-__?(cited reference #2)-Declaration of Independence (cited reference #3)Procedures:Distribute the student worksheet entitled, “Key Definitions” to students and ask them to try and develop definitions for each of the words in groups of two or three.After students have completed this work reconvene the class and invite several students to share their answers with the class.Then display the transparency entitled, “Key Words Defined.”Ask students to read the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence and write down three ideas that strike them as being most important within the text.After students have completed this work, lead a discussion in which students explain their responses, justifying them from the words of the text. Either working individually or in small groups, students will receive copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Declaration of Rights. (Inform students that the Virginia Declaration of Rights was written in June, 1776.) Students will locate evidence and themes found in the Virginia Declaration of Rights as they resonate with the ideas captured in the Declaration of Independence.Students can use the table located on the worksheet entitled “Comparing the Declaration of Independence to the Virginia Declaration of Rights to record this comparison. Key Definitions Please define the following words in groups of two or three: Natural Rights: Social Contract: Right to Revolution: Popular Sovereignty: Right of Self Determination: Key Words Defined Natural Rights: Rights which persons possess by nature: that is, without the intervention of agreement, or in the absence of political and legal institutions. Natural rights are therefore attributable to individuals without distinction of time or place.Social Contract: An agreement among the members of an organized society or between the governed and the government defining and limiting the rights and duties of each.Right to Revolution: Revolution is the over-throw of an established government, but to assert a right of revolution is to imply that such an is legitimate.Popular Sovereignty: A political condition in which the people are sovereign, that is, the people exercise the definitive decision-making power.Right of Self Determination: Determination of one's own fate or course of action without compulsion; free will; Freedom of the people of a given area to determine their own political status; independence.Answers.com. 2008. Answers Corporation.18 February 2008 <>. Comparing the Declaration of Independence to the Virginia Declaration of RightsPlease identify five themes from the Declaration of Independence that can also be found in the Virginia Declaration of Rights.Identify the location of the theme in each document, in the appropriate column.