Primary Sources | » Foundations

The Virginia Declaration of Rights,

George Mason

George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. He drew inspiration from the English Bill of Rights (1689). However, Mason made several changes to the English version, such as removing hereditary positions in government. The Virginia…

Excerpts from the Lawes Divine, Morall, and Martiall (1611),

Sir Thomas Gates and Sir Thomas Dale

Written in 1611, this document outlines some of the original laws governing the Jamestown colony. These laws were intended to govern all aspects of the colony, from theft to blasphemy. As maintaining prisons was often impractical, there was usually a…

How the founders differed from the English Bill of Rights,

iCitizenProject

Michael Barone is a journalist, political analyst, and senior writer for U.S. News & World Report. He also serves as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In this video, he discusses how the U.S. founders' ideologies differed from…

English Bill of Rights 1689,

English Parliament

The English Bill of Rights, written in 1689, helped shape the foundations of American democracy. The English House of Lords and House of Commons issued this document to express their outrage at King James II of Scotland for trying to "subvert and…

The Gerry-Mander,

Elkanah Tisdale

In 1812, Jeffersonian Republicans forced through the Massachusetts legislature a bill rearranging district lines to assure them an advantage in the upcoming senatorial elections. Although Governor Elbridge Gerry had only reluctantly signed the law, a…