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CORE WORKSHEET

Ratifying the Constitution

3

Name ___________________________ Class _____________________ Date _______


CHAPTER

2

SECTION 5
Part 1 The new Constitution’s lack of a bill of rights drew strong criticism from many

quarters. The following excerpts address this issue. Read each excerpt and answer

the questions below.
Alexander Hamilton

“Bills of Rights . . . are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution but

would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers

which are not granted; on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext

to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done

which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the

liberty of the press shall not be restricted when no power is given by which

restrictions may be imposed?”

—from The Federalist No. 84 (May 27, 1788)
1. Does Hamilton support or oppose a bill of rights?

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2. Underline the sentence that best states Hamilton’s position.

3. How would you paraphrase Hamilton’s argument?

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4. Do you think the argument is strong? Why or why not?

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Thomas Jefferson
“. . . I will now tell you what I do not like. First, the omission of a bill of rights,

providing clearly . . . for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection

against standing armies . . . [and] the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas

corpus laws, and trials by jury . . . . Let me add that a bill of rights is what the

people are entitled to against every government on earth . . . and what no just

government should refuse or rest on inference.”

—from a letter written to James Madison, December 20, 1787
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109


3

Name ___________________________ Class _____________________ Date _______
CORE WORKSHEET (continued)

Ratifying the Constitution
1. Does Jefferson support or oppose a bill of rights?

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2. Underline the sentence that best states Jefferson’s position.

3. How would you paraphrase Jefferson’s argument?

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_________________________________________________________________________

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4. Do you think the argument is strong? Why or why not?

_________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________

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Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

“Another reason weighed particularly, with the members from this state, against

the insertion of a bill of rights. Such bills generally begin with declaring that all

men are by nature born free. Now, we should make that declaration in very bad

grace, when a large part of our property consists in men who are actually born

slaves.”


—from a speech to the South Carolina House of Representatives,

January 18, 1788, during the ratification debate


1. Does Pinckney support or oppose a bill of rights?

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2. Underline the sentence that best states Pinckney’s position.

3. How would you paraphrase Pinckney’s argument?

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4. Do you think the argument is strong? Why or why not?

_________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________


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110


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Name ___________________________ Class _____________________ Date _______
CORE WORKSHEET (continued)

Ratifying the Constitution
Mercy Otis Warren
“Of thirteen state conventions, to which the constitution was submitted, those

of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Georgia,

ratified it unconditionally, and those of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York,

Virginia, and South Carolina, in full confidence of amendments which they thought

necessary, and proposed to the first congress; the other two, of Rhode Island and

North Carolina, rejected it. Thus, it is evident that a majority of the states were

convinced that the constitution, as at first proposed, endangered their liberties.”

—from Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution, Volume II (1805)


1. Does Warren support or oppose a bill of rights?

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2. Underline the sentence that best states Warren’s position.

3. How would you paraphrase Warren’s argument?

_________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________

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4. Do you think the argument is strong? Why or why not?

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Roger Sherman

“The only real security that you can have for all your important rights must be in the

nature of your government. If you suffer [permit] any man to govern you who is not

strongly interested in supporting your privileges [rights], you will certainly lose them.

If you are to trust your liberties to people whom it is necessary to bind by stipulation

[written contract] . . . your stipulation is not worth even the trouble of writing.”

—from A Countryman
1. Does Sherman support or oppose a bill of rights?

_________________________________________________________________________



2. Underline the sentence that best states Sherman’s position.
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111


Strongest Arguments



Against a Bill of Rights

3

Name ___________________________ Class _____________________ Date _______


CORE WORKSHEET (continued)

Ratifying the Constitution
3. How would you paraphrase Sherman’s argument?

_________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________



4. Do you think the argument is strong? Why or why not?

_________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________

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Part 2 Summarize each argument given in the excerpts and list them in rank order,

from strongest to weakest, in the chart below.


Strongest Arguments

For a Bill of Rights
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