HIUS 313

Sources of Liberty Assignment Instructions


This is a comparison assignment that will take you through the primary British constitutional documents from the McClellan text (Magna Carta in 1215, Petition of Right in 1628, and the English Bill of Rights in 1689) and compares them to what is found in early state charters and constitutions. The goal is to acquaint you with the fundamental rights and liberties that British North Americans insisted on having transferred to and improved in the New World and fought to preserve during the Revolution.


For this assignment, you will use the Sources of Liberty Template that is provided. You must locate at least 6 English rights and liberties to compare against 6 colonial rights and liberties. Of the 6, 2 must be the same, and 2 must be similar, but an extension rather than a direct copy. The final 2 must be the inverse (or opposite) of the English tradition.

Explanation and Example

Using the tabular format in the template, you will first transcribe the British Right, as presented in the selected document, within quotation marks. The name of the document will follow this entry, and it will be unlined. Then follow that with the date of the document in parentheses. After the British Right, you will follow the same format for the Colonial Right that you have selected to compare.

Once the two rights for comparison have been filled in, you will provide a significance. The significance is the comparison presented as an annotation. Each annotation must start with the right’s categorization (I.e., same, similar, inverse). This should be followed by 2–3 complete sentences explaining the meaning and implication of each right. There is no need to provide a bibliography or footnotes for this assignment because the title and date of each document used are provided.

British Rights Documents

The British Rights can be found in the following documents: Magna Carta (1215), Petition of Right (1628), and the English Bill of Rights (1689). You must use each of these at least once. These documents are located at the end of Part 1 “The Constitution’s Deep Roots” in the McClellan textbook, Liberty, Order, and Justice. They are Appendix A, B, and C, respectively.

Colonial Rights Documents

For Colonial Rights, there are many early state charters and constitutions available to use. One resource is The Avalon Project, and their “17th Century Documents: 1600-1699” and “18th Century Documents: 1700-1799.” Remember that you want to locate early state charters and constitutions. Not every document on those pages are early state charters and constitutions. You do not have to review or use every document, but you must use at least three different documents in your assignment. DO NOT USE the U.S. CONSTITUTION, DECLARATION of INDEPENDENCE, ARTICLES of CONFEDERATION, or the U.S. BILL of RIGHTS. These are national documents and not early state charters or constitutions.