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					   Comparing the Magna Carta and the US Constitution
          Jaqueline Hanlon, Allison Laning-Beder, Pat Leslie, & Suzanne Petto
                          Flemington-Raritan School District

Grades: Elementary/Middle

New Jersey Social Studies Content Standards: 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4

Lesson Summary:
In order to gain a better understanding of the influence of historical documents in the
creation of the American government, students will be asked to compare the English
Magna Carta with the Declaration of Independence. Students are also asked to define
and identify rights.

Suggested Time Frame: Two, 40 minute class periods

Objectives: Students will be able to
   define the term Rights (Civil Rights, Human Rights, Etc.) and give examples
   compare and contrast the Magna Carta with the Declaration of Independence
   understand the influence of historical documents upon the American structure of
      government

Ground-breaking Documents: Magna Carta v. U.S. Constitution
Historical Contrasts
    Great Britain: 13th       Essential Historical     Birth of the United States
         Century                   Questions
                         1. What is the structure of
Limited Monarchy                                       Democratic Republic
                                the government?
King and the Aristocracy 2. Who or what group/s        White Male Landowners
                             are the major players?
                         3. What documents, values,       Declaration of
Magna Carta                attitudes or beliefs define      Independence
                              these major players?        Bill of Rights

Historical Background:
    During the age of Feudalism, the King’s power was limited in that the aristocracy
could overthrow him. In the 12th Century, King Henry II took more power for the
monarchy. He imposed taxes and expanded the courts’ ability to seize land for his own
gain. Living in depressive surroundings, people felt they were being tried and taxed
unfairly. After King Henry’s death, the English Nobel’s resented the monarch’s rising
power and rebelled against Henry’s son, the current King John. They composed the
Magna Carta (Latin meaning Great Charter), which limited his power and forced him to
agree to its 63 terms. The Magna Carta was one of the first documents to influence
modern US Government and its notion of separation of power.
    Britain’s Parliament and King George III of England began to tax the colonists as pay
back for support in the French and Indian War. These taxes came in the form of the


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Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. Colonists grew angry at the notion
of having to pay money to a government that they had no representation in. Further
taxes came in the form of the Tea Act in 1773. This act imposed a tax on all tea imported
from The East India Company in England. Colonists again refused to pay additional
money on the import and refused its arrival into their seaports. In December 1773, a
group of colonists called the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians raided one of
these ships in Boston Harbor, dumping the tea overboard.
    Angered by the colonists’ actions, King George III, the British public and Parliament
imposed the Coercive Acts upon the colonists. The colonies communicated through the
committees of correspondence to come up with a way to resolve the conflict with
England. They eventually wrote the Olive Branch Petition, which was asking for peace
with the king. King George III refused to accept their request and war broke out in 1775.
The colonists known as the Patriots and the British known as the Loyalists fought until
war was officially ended in September of 1782. During the struggle, a group of colonists
known as the Continental Congress, decided to compose a written declaration that
officially denounced their affiliation with England. This came in the form of the
Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson.

Key Terms: *Key Terms are used throughout the lesson, and may need to be defined as
needed to clarify understanding

Aristocracy                          Absolute Monarchy
Democratic Republic                  Magna Carta
Declaration of Independence          Feudalism
Barons                               Nobles
Boston Tea Party                     Coercive Acts
Intolerable Acts

Do Now:
Students will gather in pre-assigned groups of four, electing a spokesperson. Students
will compare their list of rights from previous night’s homework, and create a group list
to be shared as a class.

Critical Thinking Questions:
   I.      How important are the historical documents (Declaration of Independence and
           the Magna Carta) to current American rights?

Anticipatory Set:
Day 1: Students will be provided with scenarios that demonstrate absolute power, with
the teacher taking something away from them. They will discuss the points of view and
discuss how their rights are being taken away.
Day 2: Students will be given lyrics of “No More Kings” from Schoolhouse Rocks.
Teacher will play video with students following along with the lyrics. Students will
gather with their scenario groups to compare one of the songs mentioned violations with
one presented in their scenarios. The class will discuss these connections as a whole
group.



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Procedures:
Day 1:
    I. Teacher will list these violations on the board and begin to categorize them as
       rights, upon completion of the discussion.
   II. Teacher will present Powerpoint presentation on the backgrounds of the Magna
       Carta and the Declaration of Independence. Using graphic organizer, student will
       take notes as they view the presentation. Teacher will highlight important points
       to make sure the students have taken the correct notes.
 III. Students will be broken up into two heterogeneous groups. One group will be
       designated the Magna Carta group and the other as the Declaration of
       Independence group.
  IV. Each group will be given graphic organizer with excerpts from each document.
       Matching cards will also be provided that give an explanation of each excerpt.
       Working in pairs within their group, students will match the correct explanation
       card with the document excerpt.
   V. Once the matches have been made, students will confirm with teacher that they are
       correct. Students will then draw an illustration of the main idea of the excerpt to
       provide them with a visual understanding as well.
  VI. Homework: Students will be assigned one excerpt so that they can draw a larger
       illustration. These illustrations should include a caption that highlights the main
       idea. These will be used in class tomorrow in a presentation for the entire class.
Day 2:
 VII. After Do Now Activity, students will return to their two groups. Each group will
       present their illustrated excerpt from each document. Students will be listening for
       key ideas expressed in the captions.
VIII. When both groups have presented on their documents, the teacher will ask students
       to list key ideas that they heard (i.e. No Taxation without Representation, Fair
       Trial by Jury, Freedom of religion, etc.). Teacher will write these ideas on
       sentence strips posted on the board.
  IX. After reviewing the ideas, the teacher will post the sentence strips around the
       room. Students will be asked to move to the sentence strip that closely relates to
       their excerpt. Students from both groups (Magna Carta, Declaration of
       Independence) should be meeting under similar strips.
   X. Extension: Pen a short essay explaining why since the Magna Carta did not
       actually so much as a singular document it has remained as such a seminole
       document in world history.

Closure:
When students have chosen their strip, the teacher will ask students to explain why they
chose their spot. Begin to draw connections to both documents.




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Evaluation:
Students will meet in partnerships of one Magna Carta member and one Declaration of
Independence member. Using the information they gathered on their document as well as
the previous days’ discussion, students will complete a Venn Diagram
comparing/contrasting the two documents.

Suggested Homework:
Prior to Day 1: Students will have listed some rights that they have both in and outside of
school.

Resources:
Schoolhouse Rocks America video
“No More Kings” lyrics (1.1)
Power Point Presentation (1.2)
Venn Diagram (1.3a)
Venn Diagram (1.3b)
Scenario Cards (1.4)
Magna Carta Excerpt Cards (1.5a)
Declaration of Independence Excerpt Cards (1.5b)
Defined Key Terms (1.6)
Blank sentence strips




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                                                       1.1
           NO MORE KINGS
Rockin' and a-rollin', splishin' and a-splashin',
     Over the horizon, what can it be?

         The pilgrims sailed the sea
      To find a place to call their own.
          In their ship Mayflower,
      They hoped to find a better home.
            They finally knocked
             On Plymouth Rock
      And someone said, "We're there."
         It may not look like home
        But at this point I don't care.

  Oh, they were missing Mother England,
 They swore their loyalty until the very end.
         Anything you say, King,
              It's OK, King,
  You know it's kinda scary on your own.
          Gonna build a new land
           The way we planned.
  Could you help us run it till it's grown?

        They planted corn, you know
     They built their houses one by one,
          And bit by bit they worked
        Until the colonies were done.
             They looked around,
             Yeah, up and down,
        And someone said, "Hurray!"
      If the king could only see us now
       He would be proud of us today.

They knew that now they'd run their own land,
      But George the Third still vowed
        He'd rule them till the end.
     Anything I say, do it my way now.
       Anything I say, do it my way.
    Don't you get to feeling independent
    'Cause I'm gonna force you to obey.




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               He taxed their property,
           He didn't give them any choice,
                And back in England,
           He didn't give them any voice.
  (That's called taxation without representation,
                  and it's not fair!)
         But when the Colonies complained
            The king said: "I don't care!"

                He even has the nerve
                To tax our cup of tea.
                To put it kindly, King,
                We really don't agree.

           Gonna show you how we feel.
            We're gonna dump this tea
             And turn this harbor into
          The biggest cup of tea in history!

       They wanted no more Mother England.
             They knew the time had come
              For them to take command.
       It's very clear you're being unfair, King,
       No matter what you say, we won't obey.
          Gonna hold a revolution now, King,
           And we're gonna run it all our way
                 With no more kings...

   We're gonna elect a president! (No more kings)
He's gonna do what the people want! (No more kings)
 We're gonna run things our way! (No more kings)
         Nobody's gonna tell us what to do!

    Rockin' and a-rollin', splishin' and a-splashin',
         Over the horizon, what can it be?
      Looks like it's going to be a free country.




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                                                                                                        1.3a
Name __________________________________________________ Date ___________________


                   Translating the Magna Carta – The BIG IDEAS

Directions: When you and your partner receive an excerpt card from the Magna Carta, carefully read
it and find its match with the BIG IDEA of the Magna Carta that you learned from the Powerpoint
presentation. Check with your teacher, glue it next to the big idea, and then illustrate the meaning in
the box next to it.


     BIG IDEAS from PowerPoint                Excerpt from Magna Carta       Illustration of Meaning
Excerpt 1: No scutage (tax paid instead
of serving military) not aid (taxes in
general)…shall be imposed on our
kingdom, unless by common counsel of
our kingdom…and for these there shall not
be levied more than a reasonable (fair) aid
(tax).
Excerpt 2: And for obtaining the common
counsel of the kingdom (notifying all




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representatives of the people) anent
(regarding) the assessing of an aid. ()

Excerpt 3: No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or
other person, shall take the horses or carts
of any freeman for transport duty, against
the will of the said freeman




Excerpt 4: No freemen shall be taken or
imprisoned…or in any way destroyed, nor
will we go upon him nor send upon him,
except by the lawful judgment of his peers
or by the law of the land.



Excerpt 5: …we give and grant to them
the underwritten security, namely, that the
barons choose five and twenty barons of
the kingdom, whomsoever they will, who




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shall be bound with all their might, to
observe and hold, and cause to be
observed, the peace and liberties we have
granted and confirmed to them by this our
present Charter.
Excerpt 6: Wherefore we will and firmly
order that the English Church be free, and
that the men in our kingdom have and hold
all the aforesaid (above mentioned)
liberties, rights, and concessions, well and
peaceably, freely and quietly, fully and
wholly, for themselves and their heirs, of
us and our heirs, in all respects and in all
places forever, as is aforesaid.




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                                                                                                       1.3b
Name ____________________________________________ Date _________________________

   Translating the Declaration of Independence+ – The BIG IDEAS
Directions: When you and your partner receive an excerpt card from the Declaration of
Independence, carefully read it and find its match with the BIG IDEA of the Declaration of
Independence that you learned from the Powerpoint presentation.. Check with your teacher, glue it
next to the big idea, and then illustrate the meaning in the box next to it.


                                             Excerpt from Declaration of
     BIG IDEAS from PowerPoint                                             Illustration of Meaning
                                                   Independence
Excerpt 1: “When in the course of human
events it becomes necessary for one people
to dissolve the political bands which have
connected them with another and to
assume among the powers of the earth, the
separate and equal station to which the
laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle
them, a decent respect to the opinions of
mankind requires that they should declare




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the causes which impel them to the
separation.”
Excerpt 2: “We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights, that among
these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.”



Excerpt 3: “To secure these (basic)
rights, governments are instituted among
men, deriving their powers from the
consent if the governed …”



Excerpt 4: “That whenever any form of
government becomes destructive (in
protecting rights and responding to the
people), it is the right of the people to alter
or abolish it, and to institute a new




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government …”




Excerpt 5: “The history of the present
King of Great Britain is a history of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all
having, in direct object, the establishment
of a direct tyranny over these States.”




Excerpt 6: “To prove (that England has
interfered with colonial rights), let the facts
be submitted to a candid world; He has
refused to assent to laws the most
wholesome and necessary for the public
good.”




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Excerpt 7: “In every state of these
oppressions, we have petitioned for redress
in the most humble terms; our repeated
petitions have been answered only by
repeated injury. A prince whose character
is thus marked by every act which may
define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a
free people.”




Excerpt 8: “We therefore …solemnly
publish and declare, that these united
colonies are, and of right ought to be, free
and independent states …”




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                                                 1.4
                    Scenario Cards
Scenario 1

             For no real reason, your teacher has
             decided to take away the class’
             recess. What do you think of this?
             Your teacher has decided that she
Scenario 2




             likes your new calculator so much
             that she wants it for herself. Rather
             than buy her own, she takes yours.
             What do you think of this?
             Your teacher hates bringing in her
             own snack and lunch. When the class
Scenario 3




             is at special, she often goes into the
             closet and takes whatever she wants
             from student lunches. How does this
             make you feel?
             Your teacher is saving money for a
             new car. She decides to speed the
Scenario 4




             process by charging each student $.25
             per day. Any day a student does not
             pay the teacher, he or she cannot go
             out to lunch. How does this make you
             feel?

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             Getting good grades is tough in your
             classroom. Everyone knows, though,
Scenario 5
             that if you pay the teacher $10 on the
             day of a test, she will give you an A. A
             grade of B costs $7.50. How does this
             make you feel?
             Your class is participating in a school
             wide relief drive to aid victims of the
Scenario 6




             recent tsunami. Your class raises
             $82.27! Unfortunately, your teacher
             takes $50 of the money for herself,
             calling it a handling fee. How does
             this make you feel?
Scenario 7




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                                                        1.5a
                       The Magna Carta: Excerpt Cards
Excerpt 1: No scutage (tax paid instead of
serving military) not aid (taxes in
general)…shall be imposed on our kingdom,
unless by common counsel of our
kingdom…and for these there shall not be
levied more than a reasonable (fair) aid (tax).



Excerpt 2: And for obtaining the common
counsel of the kingdom (notifying all
representatives of the people) anent
(regarding) the assessing of an aid. (tax)




Excerpt 3: No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or
other person, shall take the horses or carts of
any freeman for transport duty, against the will
of the said freeman.




Excerpt 4: No freemen shall be taken or
imprisoned…or in any way destroyed, nor will
we go upon him nor send upon him, except by
the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law
of the land.




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Excerpt 5: …we give and grant to them the
underwritten security, namely, that the barons
choose five and twenty barons of the kingdom,
whomsoever they will, who shall be bound
with all their might, to observe and hold, and
cause to be observed, the peace and liberties
we have granted and confirmed to them by this
our present Charter.


Excerpt 6: Wherefore we will and firmly order
that the English Church be free, and that the
men in our kingdom have and hold all the
aforesaid (above mentioned) liberties, rights,
and concessions, well and peaceably, freely
and quietly, fully and wholly, for themselves
and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all
respects and in all places forever, as is
aforesaid.




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                                                       1.5b
          The Declaration of Independence: Excerpt Cards
   Excerpts from the Declaration of
             Independence
Excerpt 1: No scutage (tax paid instead
of serving military) not aid (taxes in
general)…shall be imposed on our
kingdom, unless by common counsel of
our kingdom…and for these there shall not
be levied more than a reasonable (fair) aid
(tax).
Excerpt 2: And for obtaining the common
counsel of the kingdom (notifying all
representatives of the people) anent
(regarding) the assessing of an aid (tax)



Excerpt 3: A freeman shall not be
amerced (punished) for a slight offense,
except in accordance with the degree of the
offense; and for a grave offense he shall be
amerced in accordance with the gravity of
the offense.
Excerpt 4: Earls and barons shall not be
amerced (punished) except through their
peers.


Excerpt 5: No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or
other person, shall take the horses or carts
of any freeman for transport duty, against
the will of the said freeman.




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Excerpt 6: No freemen shall be taken or
imprisoned…or in any way destroyed, nor
will we go upon him nor send upon him,
except by the lawful judgment of his peers
or by the law of the land.


Excerpt 7: To no one will we sell, to no
one will we refuse or delay, right or
justice.
Excerpt 8: Moreover, all these aforesaid
customs and liberties, the observances of
which we have granted in our kingdom as
far as pertains to us towards our men, shall
be observed by all of our kingdom, as well
clergy as laymen, as far as pertains to them
towards their men.


Excerpt 9: …we give and grant to them
the underwritten security, namely, that the
barons choose five and twenty barons of
the kingdom, whomsoever they will, who
shall be bound with all their might, to
observe and hold, and cause to be
observed, the peace and liberties we have
granted and confirmed to them by this our
present Charter.




Excerpt 10: Wherefore we will and firmly


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order that the English Church be free, and
that the men in our kingdom have and hold
all the aforesaid (above mentioned)
liberties, rights, and concessions, well and
peaceably, freely and quietly, fully and
wholly, for themselves and their heirs, of
us and our heirs, in all respects and in all
places forever, as is aforesaid.




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                                                                                           1.6
                            KEY TERMS DEFINED


Aristocracy: A hereditary ruling class; nobility

Absolute Monarchy: a government determined solely by the ruler

Democratic Republic: a form of government embodying democratic principles and
where a monarch is not the head of state

Magna Carta: The charter of English political and civil liberties granted by King John
at Runnymede in June 1215

Declaration of Independence: the declaration of the Congress of the Thirteen United
States of America, on the 4th of July, 1776, by which they formally declared that these
colonies were free and independent States, not subject to the government of Great
Britain.

Feudalism: A political and economic system of Europe from the 9th to about the 15th
century, based on the holding of all land in fief or fee and the resulting relation of lord to
vassal and characterized by homage, legal and military service of tenants, and forfeiture

Barons: A feudal tenant holding his rights and title directly from a king or another
feudal superior

Nobles: Possessing hereditary rank in a political system or social class derived from a
feudalistic stage of a country's development

Boston Tea Party: demonstration (1773) by citizens of Boston who (disguised as
Indians) raided three British ships in Boston harbor and dumped hundreds of chests of tea
into the harbor; organized as a protest against taxes on tea

Coercive Acts: a series of laws passed by the British in 1774 in an attempt to punish
Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party

Intolerable Acts: a series of laws passed by the British in 1774 in an attempt to punish
Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party




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