Please submit an essay that answers ONE* of the following prompts.
*Though, given that these are the same prompts but for different documents, you may compare the U.S. and Haitian interpretations of liberty if you’re feeling adventurous.
How do the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights understand the concept of “liberty?” Consider what the documents seek to protect overall when evaluating your answer. Support your conclusion with examples from the texts.
Food for thought: “Liberty” is a deceptively simple word that can mean many different things to different people. For example, just look at the modern-day debate about gun laws: some argue against regulation, defending the freedom to arm themselves for self-protection; others favor regulation, calling for the freedom to live without fear of gun violence. Both sides are talking about “liberty,” but have conflicting understandings of what that means.
The Constitution and Bill of Rights likewise have a particular perspective on “liberty” that may not be immediately obvious. Consider, where does freedom come from—is it something natural or is it something given to us? Is liberty the freedom to dosomething, or is it freedom from something? To whom does liberty apply? Is liberty unlimited or are there limitations? And so forth.
Federal Convention of 1787, Constitution of the United States of America (1787)
James Madison et al, United States Bill of Rights (1789)
Note: Please note that the draft of the Bill of Rights in 1789 had twelve proposed amendments, but the first two did not make the cut when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. Therefore, amendments 3-12 on the draft would become the First through Tenth Amendments.
Toussaint L’Ouverture led a successful slave revolt on Saint-Domingue that forced the French to (begrudgingly) recognize the abolition of slavery and L’Ouverture’s governorship of the island. How does L’Ouverture’s constitution and proclamations speak to his understanding of “liberty,” and how does he seek to protect it? Support your conclusions with examples from the texts.
Food for thought: As with the Prompt 1, the meaning of “liberty” in these Haitian documents may not be immediately obvious or directly mentioned. Some extrapolation is required. Consider the source of liberty, its limitations, and so on.
Toussaint L’Ouverture, Constitution of 1801 (1801)
Toussaint L’Ouverture, “Dictatorial Proclamation” (1801)
Length: 600 words minimum (excluding name, date, class, and title)
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