United States Bill of Rights
Overview
 
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights
Natural rights
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

 of liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 and property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public.
Quotations

Can any of you seriously say the Bill of Rights|Bill of Rights could get through Congress today? It wouldn’t even get out of committee.

F. Lee Bailey, Newsweek, 17 April 1967.

Encyclopedia
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights
Natural rights
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

 of liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 and property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public. While originally the amendments applied only to the federal government, most of their provisions have since been held to apply to the states by way of the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

.

The amendments were introduced by James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 to the 1st United States Congress
1st United States Congress
-House of Representatives:During this congress, five House seats were added for North Carolina and one House seat was added for Rhode Island when they ratified the Constitution.-Senate:* President: John Adams * President pro tempore: John Langdon...

 as a series of legislative
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 articles. They were adopted by the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 on August 21, 1789, formally proposed by joint resolution
Joint resolution
In the United States Congress, a joint resolution is a legislative measure that requires approval by the Senate and the House and is presented to the President for his/her approval or disapproval, in exactly the same case as a bill....

 of Congress on September 25, 1789, and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States. While twelve amendments were passed by Congress, only ten were originally passed by the states. Of the remaining two, one was adopted as the Twenty-seventh Amendment
Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-seventh Amendment prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of the Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives...

 and the other technically remains pending before the states.

Originally, the Bill of Rights included legal protection for land-owning white men only, excluding African Americans and women. It took additional Constitutional Amendments and numerous Supreme Court cases to extend the same rights to all U.S. citizens.

The Bill of Rights plays a key role in American law
Law of the United States
The law of the United States consists of many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States...

 and government, and remains a vital symbol of the freedoms and culture
Culture of the United States
The Culture of the United States is a Western culture originally influenced by European cultures. It has been developing since long before the United States became a country with its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore...

 of the nation. One of the first fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

.

English Bill of Rights

One of the earliest documents used in drafting the American Bill of Rights was the English Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

 of 1689, one of the fundamental documents of English constitutional law. The English Bill of Rights differed substantially in form and intent from the American Bill of Rights, because it was intended to address the rights of citizens as represented by Parliament against the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

. However, some of its basic tenets were adopted and extended by the U.S. Bill of Rights, including:
  • the right of petition,
  • an independent judiciary (the Sovereign was forbidden to establish his own courts or to act as a judge himself),
  • freedom from tax
    Tax
    To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

    ation by royal (executive) prerogative, without agreement by Parliament (legislators),
  • freedom from a peace-time standing army,
  • freedom [for Protestants
    Protestantism
    Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

    ] to bear arms for their defence, as allowed by law,
  • freedom to elect members of Parliament without interference from the Sovereign,
  • freedom of speech in Parliament,
  • freedom from cruel and unusual punishments and excessive bail
    Bail
    Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

    , and
  • freedom from fines and forfeitures
    Asset forfeiture
    Asset forfeiture is confiscation, by the State, of assets which are either the alleged proceeds of crime or the alleged instrumentalities of crime, and more recently, alleged terrorism. Instrumentalities of crime are property that was allegedly used to facilitate crime, for example cars...

     without trial.

Virginia Declaration of Rights

The Virginia Declaration of Rights, well-known to Madison, had already been a strong influence on the American Revolution ("all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people ..."; also "a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter or abolish [the government]"). It had shaped the drafting of the United States Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

 a decade before the drafting of the Constitution, proclaiming that "all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights of which ... [they cannot divest;] namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety." On a practical level, its recommendations of a government with a separation of powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 (Articles 5–6) and "frequent, certain, and regular" elections
Elections in the United States
The United States has a federal government, with elected officials at the federal , state and local levels. On a national level, the head of state, the President, is elected indirectly by the people, through an Electoral College. In modern times, the electors virtually always vote with the popular...

 of executives and legislators were incorporated into the United States Constitution — but the bulk of this work addresses the rights of the people and restrictions on the powers of government, and is recognizable in the modern Bill of Rights:

The government should not have the power of suspending or executing laws, "without consent of the representatives of the people,". A legal defendant has the right to be "confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage," and may not be "compelled to give evidence against himself." Individuals should be protected against "cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing criminal punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering or humiliation it inflicts on the condemned person...

s", baseless search and seizure
Search and seizure
Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime.Some countries have...

, and be guaranteed a trial by jury
Jury trial
A jury trial is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge...

. The government should not abridge freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

, or freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 ("all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion"). The government should be enjoined against maintaining a standing army
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

 rather than a "well regulated militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

".

Articles of Confederation

Prior to the acceptance and implementation of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, the original 13 colonies followed the stipulations and agreements set forth in the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

, created by the Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

 and ratified in 1781. The national government that operated under the Articles of Confederation was too weak however to adequately regulate the various conflicts that arose between the states. The Philadelphia Convention
Philadelphia Convention
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from...

 set out to correct weaknesses inherent in the Articles of Confederation that had been apparent even before the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 had been successfully concluded. The newly constituted Federal government included a strong executive branch, a stronger legislative branch and an independent judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

.

The Bill of Rights is a series of limitations on the power of the U.S. federal government, protecting the natural rights
Natural rights
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

 of liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 and property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

 including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, a free press, free assembly, and free association, as well as the right to keep and bear arms. In federal criminal cases, it requires indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 by a grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

 for any capital
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 or "infamous crime", guarantees a speedy, public trial
Trial
A trial is, in the most general sense, a test, usually a test to see whether something does or does not meet a given standard.It may refer to:*Trial , the presentation of information in a formal setting, usually a court...

 with an impartial jury
Jury trial
A jury trial is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge...

 composed of members of the state or judicial district in which the crime occurred, and prohibits double jeopardy
Double jeopardy
Double jeopardy is a procedural defense that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same, or similar charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction...

. In addition, the Bill of Rights reserves for the people any rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution and reserves all powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the people or the States
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

. Most of these restrictions on the federal government were later applied to the states by a series of legal decisions applying the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, which was ratified in 1868. The Bill was influenced by George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

's 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights
Virginia Declaration of Rights
The Virginia Declaration of Rights is a document drafted in 1776 to proclaim the inherent rights of men, including the right to rebel against "inadequate" government...

, the English Bill of Rights 1689
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

, works of the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 pertaining to natural rights, and earlier English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 political documents such as Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 (1215).

The Anti-Federalists

Following the Philadelphia Convention, some famous revolutionary
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 figures and statesmen, such as Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

, publicly argued against the Constitution. Many were concerned that the strong national government proposed by the Federalists was a threat to individual rights
Individual rights
Group rights are rights held by a group rather than by its members separately, or rights held only by individuals within the specified group; in contrast, individual rights are rights held by individual people regardless of their group membership or lack thereof...

 and that the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 would become a king, and objected to the federal court system in the proposed Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, at the time serving as Ambassador to France
Early Modern France
Kingdom of France is the early modern period of French history from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century...

, wrote to Madison advocating a Bill of Rights: "Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can." George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

 refused to sign the proposed Constitution, in part to protest its lack of a Bill of Rights.

In a paper later collected into the Anti-Federalist Papers, the pseudonym
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

ous "Brutus
Brutus
Brutus is the cognomen of the Roman gens Junia, a prominent family of the Roman Republic. The plural of Brutus is Bruti, and the vocative form is Brute, as immortalized in the quotation "Et tu, Brute?", from Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar....

" (probably Robert Yates
Robert Yates (politician)
Robert Yates was a politician and judge well known for his Anti-Federalist stances. He is also well known as the presumed author of political essays published in 1787 and 1788 under the pseudonyms "Brutus" and "Sydney"...

) wrote,


We find they have, in the ninth section of the first article declared, that the writ of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

 shall not be suspended, unless in cases of rebellion — that no bill of attainder
Bill of attainder
A bill of attainder is an act of a legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a judicial trial.-English law:...

, or ex post facto law
Ex post facto law
An ex post facto law or retroactive law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law...

, shall be passed — that no title of nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 shall be granted by the United States, etc. If every thing which is not given is reserved, what propriety is there in these exceptions? Does this Constitution any where grant the power of suspending the habeas corpus, to make ex post facto laws, pass bills of attainder, or grant titles of nobility? It certainly does not in express terms. The only answer that can be given is, that these are implied in the general powers granted. With equal truth it may be said, that all the powers which the bills of rights guard against the abuse of, are contained or implied in the general ones granted by this Constitution.


Brutus continued with an implication directed against the Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

:
Ought not a government, vested with such extensive and indefinite authority, to have been restricted by a declaration of rights? It certainly ought. So clear a point is this, that I cannot help suspecting that persons who attempt to persuade people that such reservations were less necessary under this Constitution than under those of the States, are wilfully endeavoring to deceive, and to lead you into an absolute state of vassalage.

Philadelphia Convention

The United States Constitutional Convention (also known as the Philadelphia Convention
Philadelphia Convention
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from...

, and various other names) took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

 and although the Convention was purportedly intended only to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. Due to the difficulty of travel in the late 18th century, very few of the selected delegates were present on the designated day of May 14, 1787, and it was not until May 25 that a quorum of seven states was secured. The convention convened in the Pennsylvania State House, and George Washington was unanimously elected as president of the convention and William Jackson
William Jackson (secretary)
William Jackson was a figure in the American Revolution, most noteworthy as the secretary to the United States Constitutional Convention. He also served with distinction in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War...

 was elected as secretary. Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 was James Madison's record of the daily debates held by delegates at the Philadelphia Convention, which resulted in the drafting of the current United States Constitution...

remain the most complete record of the convention.

In late July, 1787, the convention appointed a Committee of Detail
Committee of Detail
The Committee of Detail was a committee established by the Philadelphia Convention on June 23, 1787 to put down a draft text reflecting the agreements made by the Convention up to that point, including the Virginia Plan's 15 resolutions. It was chaired by John Rutledge, and other members included...

 to draft a document based on the agreements that had been reached. After another month of discussion and refinement, a second committee, the Committee of Style and Arrangement, headed by Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris , was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a native of New York City who represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation. Morris was also an author of large sections of the...

, and including Hamilton, William Samuel Johnson, Rufus King, and Madison, produced the final version, which was submitted for signing on September 17. Morris is credited, both now and then, as the chief draftsman of the final document, including the preamble.

Not all delegates were pleased with the results and thirteen of them left before the ceremony, three of those remaining refused to sign: Edmund Randolph
Edmund Randolph
Edmund Jennings Randolph was an American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General.-Biography:...

 of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

 of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and Elbridge Gerry
Elbridge Gerry
Elbridge Thomas Gerry was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was selected as the fifth Vice President of the United States , serving under James Madison, until his death a year and a half into his term...

 of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

 demanded a Bill of Rights
Bill of rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...

 if he was to support the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was not included in the Constitution submitted to the states for ratification, but many states ratified it anyway with the understanding that a bill of rights would soon follow. 39 of the 55 delegates ended up signing, but it is likely that none were completely satisfied. Their views were summed up by Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, who said,
"There are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. ... I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. ... It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies..."


Delegates to the Philadelphia Convention on September 12, 1787 debated whether to include a Bill of Rights
Bill of rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...

 in the body of the U.S. Constitution, and an agreement to create the Bill of Rights helped to secure ratification of the Constitution itself. Ideological conflict between Federalists and anti-Federalists
Anti-Federalism
Anti-Federalism refers to a movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the Constitution of 1787. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation, gave state governments more authority...

 threatened the final ratification of the new national Constitution. Thus, the Bill addressed the concerns of some of the Constitution's influential opponents, including prominent Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

, who argued that the Constitution should not be ratified because it failed to protect the fundamental principles of human liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

.

The Constitution was then submitted to the states for ratification, pursuant to its own Article VII. Twelve articles were proposed to the States, but only ten, corresponding to the First through Tenth Amendments, were ratified in the 18th Century. The first Article
Article The First
Article the First is the first proposed amendment to the United States Constitution though it has not yet been ratified...

, dealing with the number and apportionment of U.S. Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, has never been ratified, and the second, limiting the power of Congress to increase the salaries of its members, was ratified in 1992 as the 27th Amendment
Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-seventh Amendment prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of the Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives...

.

Delegates to the Consitutional convention

The 55 delegate
Delegate
A delegate is a person who speaks or acts on behalf of an organization at a meeting or conference between organizations of the same level A delegate is a person who speaks or acts on behalf of an organization (e.g., a government, a charity, an NGO, or a trade union) at a meeting or conference...

s who drafted the Constitution included many of the Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

 of the new nation. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, who was Minister to France
United States Ambassador to France
This article is about the United States Ambassador to France. There has been a United States Ambassador to France since the American Revolution. The United States sent its first envoys to France in 1776, towards the end of the four-centuries-old Bourbon dynasty...

 during the convention, characterized the delegates as an assembly of "demi-gods." John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 also did not attend, being abroad in Europe as Minister to Great Britain
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
The office of United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom was traditionally, and still is very much so today due to the Special Relationship, the most prestigious position in the United States Foreign Service...

, but he wrote home to encourage the delegates. Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

 was also absent; he refused to go because he "smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy." Also absent were John Hancock
John Hancock
John Hancock was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...

 and Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American...

. Rhode Island refused to send delegates to the convention.
Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

  • Oliver Ellsworth
    Oliver Ellsworth
    Oliver Ellsworth was an American lawyer and politician, a revolutionary against British rule, a drafter of the United States Constitution, and the third Chief Justice of the United States. While at the Federal Convention, Ellsworth moved to strike the word National from the motion made by Edmund...

    *
  • William Samuel Johnson
    William Samuel Johnson
    William Samuel Johnson was an early American statesman who was notable for signing the United States Constitution, for representing Connecticut in the United States Senate, and for serving as president of Columbia University.-Early career:...

  • Roger Sherman
    Roger Sherman
    Roger Sherman was an early American lawyer and politician, as well as a founding father. He served as the first mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, and served on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and was also a representative and senator in the new republic...



Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

  • Richard Bassett
    Richard Bassett
    Richard Bassett was an American lawyer and politician from Dover, in Kent County, Delaware. He was a veteran of the American Revolution, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and a member of the Federalist Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as Governor of Delaware,...

  • Gunning Bedford, Jr.
    Gunning Bedford, Jr.
    Gunning Bedford, Jr. was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He served in the Delaware General Assembly, as a Continental Congressman from Delaware and as a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787. He is often confused with his cousin,...

  • Jacob Broom
    Jacob Broom
    Jacob Broom was an American businessman and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. As a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was a signer of the U.S. Constitution. He was also appointed as a delegate to the Annapolis Convention but did not attend, and...

  • John Dickinson
    John Dickinson (delegate)
    John Dickinson was an American lawyer and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware. He was a militia officer during the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of...

  • George Read
    George Read (signer)
    George Read was an American lawyer and politician from New Castle in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a Continental Congressman from Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of Delaware, and a member of the...



Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

  • Abraham Baldwin
    Abraham Baldwin
    Abraham Baldwin was an American politician, Patriot, and Founding Father from the U.S. state of Georgia. Baldwin was a Georgia representative in the Continental Congress and served in the United States House of Representatives and Senate after the adoption of the Constitution.-Minister:After...

  • William Few
    William Few
    William Few, Jr. was an American politician and a farmer, and a businessman and a Founding Father of the United States. William represented the U.S. state of Georgia at the Constitutional Convention....

  • William Houstoun*
  • William Pierce
    William Pierce (politician)
    William Pierce was an army officer during the American Revolutionary War and a member of the United States Constitutional Convention of 1787....

    *


Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

  • Daniel Carroll
    Daniel Carroll
    Daniel Carroll was a politician and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a prominent member of one of the United States' great colonial Catholic families, whose members included his younger brother Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States and...

  • Luther Martin
    Luther Martin
    Luther Martin was a politician and one of United States' Founding Fathers, who refused to sign the Constitution because he felt it violated states' rights...

    *
  • James McHenry
    James McHenry
    James McHenry was an early American statesman. McHenry was a signer of the United States Constitution from Maryland and the namesake of Fort McHenry...

  • John Francis Mercer
    John Francis Mercer
    John Francis Mercer was an American lawyer, planter, and politician from Virginia and Maryland. Born in 1759 in Marlborough, Stafford County, Virginia, to John Mercer and Ann Roy Mercer, he graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1775 and was a delegate for Virginia to the Continental...

    *
  • Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
    Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
    Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer was a politician and a Founding Father of the United States. Born long before conflicts with Great Britain emerged, he was a leader for many years in Maryland's colonial government...



Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

  • Elbridge Gerry
    Elbridge Gerry
    Elbridge Thomas Gerry was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was selected as the fifth Vice President of the United States , serving under James Madison, until his death a year and a half into his term...

    *
  • Nathaniel Gorham
    Nathaniel Gorham
    Nathaniel Gorham was the fourteenth President of the United States in Congress assembled, under the Articles of Confederation...

  • Rufus King
    Rufus King
    Rufus King was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. He also attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

  • Caleb Strong
    Caleb Strong
    Caleb Strong was Massachusetts lawyer and politician who served as the sixth and tenth Governor of Massachusetts between 1800 and 1807, and again from 1812 until 1816.-Biography:...

    *


New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

  • Nicholas Gilman
    Nicholas Gilman
    Nicholas Gilman, Jr. was a soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, a delegate to the Continental Congress, and a signer of the U.S. Constitution, representing New Hampshire. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives during the first four...

  • John Langdon
    John Langdon
    John Langdon was a politician from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and one of the first two United States senators from that state. Langdon was an early supporter of the Revolutionary War and later served in the Continental Congress...



New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

  • David Brearley
    David Brearley
    David Brearley was a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention and signed the U.S...

  • Jonathan Dayton
    Jonathan Dayton
    Jonathan Dayton was an American politician from the U.S. state of New Jersey. He was the youngest person to sign the United States Constitution and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving as the fourth Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and later the U.S. Senate...

  • William Houston
    William Houston
    William Churchill Houston was an American teacher, lawyer, and statesman. He was a delegate to both the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention for New Jersey. Houston was elected in 1785 to the American Philosophical Society.-Early life and career:Houston was born in the Sumter...

    *
  • William Livingston
    William Livingston
    William Livingston served as the Governor of New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War and was a signer of the United States Constitution.-Early life:...

  • William Paterson


New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

  • John Lansing, Jr.
    John Lansing, Jr.
    John Ten Eyck Lansing, Jr. , was an American lawyer and politician. He was the uncle of Gerrit Y. Lansing.-Career:...

    *
  • Robert Yates
    Robert Yates (politician)
    Robert Yates was a politician and judge well known for his Anti-Federalist stances. He is also well known as the presumed author of political essays published in 1787 and 1788 under the pseudonyms "Brutus" and "Sydney"...

    *


North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

  • William Blount
    William Blount
    William Blount, was a United States statesman. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention for North Carolina, the first and only governor of the Southwest Territory, and Democratic-Republican Senator from Tennessee . He played a major role in establishing the state of Tennessee. He was the...

  • William Richardson Davie
    William Richardson Davie
    William Richardson Davie was a military officer and the tenth Governor of North Carolina from 1798 to 1799, as well as one of the most important men involved in the founding of the University of North Carolina...

    *
  • Alexander Martin
    Alexander Martin
    Alexander Martin was the fourth and seventh Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1782 to 1784 and from 1789 to 1792.-Biography:...

    *
  • Richard Dobbs Spaight
    Richard Dobbs Spaight
    Richard Dobbs Spaight was the eighth Governor of the American State of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795.-Early life:Spaight was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the son of the Secretary of the Crown in the colony...

  • Hugh Williamson
    Hugh Williamson
    Hugh Williamson was an American politician. He is best known for representing North Carolina at the Constitutional Convention.Williamson was a scholar of international renown...



Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

  • George Clymer
    George Clymer
    George Clymer was an American politician and founding father. He was one of the first Patriots to advocate complete independence from Britain. As a Pennsylvania representative, Clymer was, along with five others, a signatory of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution...

  • Thomas Fitzsimons
    Thomas Fitzsimons
    Thomas FitzSimons was an American merchant and statesman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the U.S. Congress.-Biography:...

  • Benjamin Franklin
    Benjamin Franklin
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

  • Jared Ingersoll
    Jared Ingersoll
    Jared Ingersoll was an early American lawyer and statesman from Philadelphia.He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and signed the U.S. Constitution for Pennsylvania...

  • Thomas Mifflin
    Thomas Mifflin
    Thomas Mifflin was an American merchant and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania, President of the Continental...

  • Gouverneur Morris
    Gouverneur Morris
    Gouverneur Morris , was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a native of New York City who represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation. Morris was also an author of large sections of the...

  • Robert Morris
    Robert Morris (merchant)
    Robert Morris, Jr. was a British-born American merchant, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution...

  • James Wilson
    James Wilson
    James Wilson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Wilson was elected twice to the Continental Congress, and was a major force in drafting the United States Constitution...



South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

  • Pierce Butler
    Pierce Butler
    Pierce Butler was a soldier, planter, and statesman, recognized as one of United States' Founding Fathers. He represented South Carolina in the Continental Congress, the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and the U.S. Senate...

  • Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
    Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
    Charles Cotesworth “C. C.” Pinckney , was an early American statesman of South Carolina, Revolutionary War veteran, and delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He was twice nominated by the Federalist Party as their presidential candidate, but he did not win either election.-Early life and...

  • Charles Pinckney
    Charles Pinckney (governor)
    Charles Pinckney was an American politician who was a signer of the United States Constitution, the 37th Governor of South Carolina, a Senator and a member of the House of Representatives...

  • John Rutledge
    John Rutledge
    John Rutledge was an American statesman and judge. He was the first Governor of South Carolina following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the 31st overall...



Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

  • John Blair
    John Blair
    John Blair, Jr. was an American politician, Founding Father and jurist.Blair was one of the best-trained jurists of his day. A famous legal scholar, he avoided the tumult of state politics, preferring to work behind the scenes...

  • James Madison
    James Madison
    James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

  • George Mason
    George Mason
    George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

    *
  • James McClurg
    James McClurg
    James McClurg was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention. McClurg was an established physician in Virginia who was educated at the College of William and Mary and took his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh. He was a fellow student with Thomas Jefferson. He practiced first in...

    *
  • Edmund Randolph
    Edmund Randolph
    Edmund Jennings Randolph was an American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General.-Biography:...

    *
  • George Washington
    George Washington
    George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

  • George Wythe
    George Wythe
    George Wythe was an American lawyer, a judge, a prominent law professor and "Virginia's foremost classical scholar." He was a teacher and mentor of Thomas Jefferson. Wythe's signature is positioned at the head of the list of seven Virginia signatories on the United States Declaration of Independence...

    *


Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

  • Rhode Island did not send delegates to the convention.

(*) Did not sign the final draft of the U.S. Constitution. Randolph, Mason, and Gerry were the only three present in Philadelphia at the time who refused to sign.

The Ideas of John Locke

To some degree, the Bill of Rights (and the American Revolution) incorporated the ideas of John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, who argued in his 1689 work
Two Treatises of Government
Two Treatises of Government
The Two Treatises of Government is a work of political philosophy published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke...

that civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

 was created for the protection of property (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 
proprius, or that which is one's own, meaning "life, liberty, and estate"). Locke also advanced the notion that each individual is free and equal in the state of nature
State of nature
State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments...

. Locke expounded on the idea of natural rights that are inherent to all individuals, a concept Madison mentioned in his speech presenting the Bill of Rights to the 1st Congress. Locke's argument for protecting economic rights against government may have been most salient to the framers of the Amendments; quartering and cruel punishments were not the current abuses of 1791.

Madison's preemptive proposal

On June 8, 1789, Madison submitted his proposal to Congress. In his speech to Congress on that day, Madison said:

For while we feel all these inducements to go into a revisal of the constitution, we must feel for the constitution itself, and make that revisal a moderate one. I should be unwilling to see a door opened for a re-consideration of the whole structure of the government, for a re-consideration of the principles and the substance of the powers given; because I doubt, if such a door was opened, if we should be very likely to stop at that point which would be safe to the government itself: But I do wish to see a door opened to consider, so far as to incorporate those provisions for the security of rights, against which I believe no serious objection has been made by any class of our constituents.


Prior to listing his proposals for a number of constitutional amendments, Madison acknowledged a major reason for some of the discontent with the Constitution as written:

I believe that the great mass of the people who opposed [the Constitution], disliked it because it did not contain effectual provision against encroachments on particular rights, and those safeguards which they have been long accustomed to have interposed between them and the magistrate who exercised the sovereign power: nor ought we to consider them safe, while a great number of our fellow citizens think these securities necessary.


The proposal was adopted by the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 on August 21, 1789, forwarded to the Senate on August 24, and adopted by joint resolution
Joint resolution
In the United States Congress, a joint resolution is a legislative measure that requires approval by the Senate and the House and is presented to the President for his/her approval or disapproval, in exactly the same case as a bill....

 of Congress on September 25, 1789 to be forwarded to the states on September 28.

Early sentiments favoring expanding the Bill of Rights

The idea of adding a bill of rights to the Constitution was originally controversial. Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, in Federalist
Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles or essays promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven of the essays were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October 1787 and August 1788...

 No. 84
Federalist No. 84
Federalist No. 84 , an essay entitled "Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered," is one of the Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, published under the pseudonym Publius on July 16, July 26, and August 9, 1788.Federalist No...

, argued against a "Bill of Rights," asserting that ratification of the Constitution did not mean the American people were surrendering their rights, and, therefore, that protections were unnecessary: "Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing, and as they retain everything, they have no need of particular reservations." Critics pointed out that earlier political documents had protected specific rights, but Hamilton argued that the Constitution was inherently different:

Bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative
Prerogative
In law, a prerogative is an exclusive right given from a government or state and invested in an individual or group, the content of which is separate from the body of rights enjoyed under the general law of the normative state...

 in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was "Magna Charta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

", obtained by the Barons, swords in hand, from King John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

.


Finally, Hamilton expressed the fear that protecting specific rights might imply that any unmentioned rights would not be protected:
I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and 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?


Essentially, Hamilton and other Federalists believed in the British system of common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 which did not define or quantify natural rights
Natural rights
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

. They believed that adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution would limit their rights to those listed in the Constitution. This is the primary reason the Ninth Amendment
Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, addresses rights of the people that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.-Text:-Adoption:When the U.S...

 was included.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 was a supporter of the Bill of Rights.
George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

 "wished the plan [the Constitution] had been prefaced with a Bill of Rights." Elbridge Gerry
Elbridge Gerry
Elbridge Thomas Gerry was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was selected as the fifth Vice President of the United States , serving under James Madison, until his death a year and a half into his term...

 of Massachusetts "concurred in the idea & moved for a Committee to prepare a Bill of Rights." Roger Sherman
Roger Sherman
Roger Sherman was an early American lawyer and politician, as well as a founding father. He served as the first mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, and served on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and was also a representative and senator in the new republic...

 argued against a Bill of Rights stating that the "State Declarations of Rights are not repealed by this Constitution." Mason then stated "The Laws of the U. S. are to be paramount to State Bills of Rights." Gerry's motion was defeated with 10-Nays, 1-Absent, and No-Yeas.

Ratification and the Massachusetts Compromise

Ratification of the Constitution
  Date State Votes
Yes No
1 December 7, 1787 Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

30 0
2 December 11, 1787 Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

46 23
3 December 18, 1787 New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

38 0
4 January 2, 1788 Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

26 0
5 January 9, 1788 Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

128 40
6 February 6, 1788 Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

187 168
7 April 26, 1788 Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

63 11
8 May 23, 1788 South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

149 73
9 June 21, 1788 New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

57 47
10 June 25, 1788 Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

89 79
11 July 26, 1788 New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

30 27
12 November 21, 1789 North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

194 77
13 May 29, 1790 Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

34 32

Individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

 was the strongest element of opposition; the necessity, or at least the desirability, of a bill of rights was almost universally felt, and the Anti-Federalists were able to play on these feelings in the ratification convention in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. By this stage, five of the states had ratified the Constitution with relative ease; however, the Massachusetts convention was bitter and contentious:

In Massachusetts, the Constitution ran into serious, organized opposition. Only after two leading Anti-federalists, Adams
Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American...

 and Hancock
John Hancock
John Hancock was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...

, negotiated a far-reaching compromise did the convention vote for ratification on February 6, 1788 (187–168). Anti-federalists had demanded that the Constitution be amended before they would consider it or that amendments be a condition of ratification; Federalists had retorted that it had to be accepted or rejected as it was. Under the Massachusetts compromise, the delegates recommended amendments to be considered by the new Congress, should the Constitution go into force. The Massachusetts compromise determined the fate of the Constitution, as it permitted delegates with doubts to vote for it in the hope that it would be amended.


On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was completed, followed by a speech given by Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, who urged unanimity, although the Convention decided that only nine states were needed to ratify. The Convention submitted the Constitution to the Congress of the Confederation
Congress of the Confederation
The Congress of the Confederation or the United States in Congress Assembled was the governing body of the United States of America that existed from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789. It comprised delegates appointed by the legislatures of the states. It was the immediate successor to the Second...



Massachusetts’ Rufus King
Rufus King
Rufus King was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. He also attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

 assessed the Convention as a creature of the states, independent of the Articles Congress, submitting its proposal to Congress only to satisfy forms. Though amendments were debated, they were all defeated, and on September 28, 1787, the Articles Congress resolved “unanimously” to transmit the Constitution to state legislatures for submitting to a ratification convention according to the Constitutional procedure. Several states enlarged the numbers qualified just for electing ratification delegates. In this they went beyond the Constitution's provision for the most voters for the state legislature to make a new social contract among, more nearly than ever before, "We, the people".

Following Massachusetts' lead, the Federalist minorities in both Virginia and New York were able to obtain ratification in convention by linking ratification to recommended amendments. A minority of the Constitution’s critics continued to oppose the Constitution. Maryland’s Luther Martin
Luther Martin
Luther Martin was a politician and one of United States' Founding Fathers, who refused to sign the Constitution because he felt it violated states' rights...

 argued that the federal convention had exceeded its authority; he still called for amending the Articles. Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation stated that the union created under the Articles was "perpetual" and that any alteration must be "agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State".

However, the unanimous requirement under the Articles made all attempts at reform impossible. Martin’s allies such as New York’s John Lansing, Jr.
John Lansing, Jr.
John Ten Eyck Lansing, Jr. , was an American lawyer and politician. He was the uncle of Gerrit Y. Lansing.-Career:...

, dropped moves to obstruct the Convention's process. They began to take exception to the Constitution “as it was”, seeking amendments. Several conventions saw supporters for "amendments before" shift to a position of "amendments after" for the sake of staying in the Union. New York Anti’s “circular letter” was sent to each state legislature proposing a second constitutional convention for "amendments before". It failed in the state legislatures. Ultimately, only North Carolina and Rhode Island would wait for amendments from Congress before ratifying.

Article VII of the proposed constitution stipulated that only nine of the thirteen states would have to ratify for the new government to go into effect (for the participating states). After a year had passed in state-by-state ratification battles, on September 13, 1788, the Articles Congress certified that the new Constitution had been ratified. The new government would be inaugurated with eleven of the thirteen. The Articles Congress directed the new government to begin in New York City on the first Wednesday in March, and on March 4, 1789, the government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 duly began operations.

George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 had earlier been reluctant to go the Convention for fear the states “with their darling sovereignties” could not be overcome. But he was elected the Constitution's President unanimously, including the vote of Virginia’s presidential elector, the Anti-federalist Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

. The new Congress would be a triumph for the Federalists. The Senate of eleven states would be 20 Federalists to two Virginia (Henry) Anti-federalists. The House would seat 48 Federalists to 11 Antis from only four states: Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and South Carolina.

Antis' fears of personal oppression by Congress would be allayed by Amendments passed under the floor leadership of James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 in the first session of the first Congress. These first ten Amendments ratified by the states were to become known as the Bill of Rights
Bill of rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...

. Objections to a potentially remote federal judiciary would be reconciled with 13 federal courts (11 states, Maine and Kentucky), and three Federal riding circuits out of the Supreme Court: Eastern, Middle and South. Suspicion of a powerful federal executive was answered by Washington’s cabinet appointments of once-Anti-Federalists Edmund Jennings Randolph as Attorney General and Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 as Secretary of State.

What Constitutional historian Pauline Maier
Pauline Maier
Pauline Maier is a popular scholar of the American Revolution, the preceding era and post-revolutionary United States. She is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ....

 calls a national “dialogue between power and liberty” had begun anew.

Four of the next five states to ratify, including New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, included similar language in their ratification instruments. They all sent recommendations for amendments with their ratification documents to the new Congress. Since many of these recommendations pertained to safeguarding personal rights, this pressured Congress to add a Bill of Rights after Constitutional ratification. Additionally, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 refused to ratify the Constitution until progress was made on the issue of the Bill of Rights. Thus, while the Anti-Federalists were unsuccessful in their quest to prevent the adoption of the Constitution, their efforts were not totally in vain.

After the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the 1st United States Congress
1st United States Congress
-House of Representatives:During this congress, five House seats were added for North Carolina and one House seat was added for Rhode Island when they ratified the Constitution.-Senate:* President: John Adams * President pro tempore: John Langdon...

 met in Federal Hall
Federal Hall
Federal Hall, built in 1700 as New York's City Hall, later served as the first capitol building of the United States of America under the Constitution, and was the site of George Washington's inauguration as the first President of the United States. It was also where the United States Bill of...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. Most of the delegates agreed that a "bill of rights" was needed and most of them agreed on the rights they believed should be enumerated.
Madison, at the head of the Virginia delegation of the 1st Congress, had originally opposed a Bill of Rights but hoped to pre-empt a second Constitutional Convention
Constitutional convention (political meeting)
A constitutional convention is now a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution...

 that might have undone the difficult compromises of 1787: a second convention would open the entire Constitution to reconsideration and could undermine the work he and so many others had done in establishing the structure of the U.S. Government. Writing to Jefferson, he stated, "The friends of the Constitution...wish the revisal to be carried no farther than to supply additional guards for liberty...and are fixed in opposition to the risk of another Convention....It is equally certain that there are others who urge a second Convention with the insidious hope of throwing all things into Confusion, and of subverting the fabric just established, if not the Union itself."

Madison based much of the Bill of Rights on George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

's Virginia Declaration of Rights
Virginia Declaration of Rights
The Virginia Declaration of Rights is a document drafted in 1776 to proclaim the inherent rights of men, including the right to rebel against "inadequate" government...

 (1776), which itself had been written with Madison's input. He carefully considered the state amendment recommendations as well. He looked for recommendations shared by many states to avoid controversy and reduce opposition to the ratification of the future amendments. Additionally, Madison's work on the Bill of Rights reflected centuries of English law and philosophy, further modified by the principles of the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

.

Ratification process

On November 20, 1789, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 became the first state to ratify these amendments. On December 15, 1791, ten of these proposals became the First through Tenth Amendments — and U.S. law — when they were ratified by the Virginia legislature.

Ratification timeline:
  • September 17, 1787 – Final draft of the Constitution is signed and convention adjourns.
  • September 28, 1787 – Continental Congress approves sending proposed Constitution to states for their consideration.
  • December 7, 1787 – Delaware is 1st state to ratify the Constitution.
  • December 12, 1787 – Pennsylvania is 2nd state to ratify the Constitution.
  • December 18, 1787 – New Jersey is 3rd state to ratify the Constitution.
  • January 2, 1788 – Georgia is 4th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • January 9, 1788 – Connecticut is 5th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • February 6, 1788 – Massachusetts is 6th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • March 24, 1788 – Rhode Island REFUSES to call ratifying convention.
  • April 28, 1788 – Maryland is 7th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • May 23, 1788 – South Carolina is 8th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • June 21, 1788 – New Hampshire is 9th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • June 25, 1788 – Virginia is 10th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • July 26, 1788 – New York is 11th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • March 4, 1789 – The Constitution goes into effect.
  • September 25, 1789 – Congress proposes Bill of Rights.
  • November 20, 1789 – New Jersey is 1st state to ratify the Bill of Rights; rejected article II
  • November 21, 1789 – North Carolina is 12th state to ratify the Constitution.
  • December 19, 1789 – Maryland is 2nd state to ratify the Bill of Rights, approved all
  • December 22, 1789 – North Carolina is 3rd state to ratify the Bill of Rights, approved all
  • January 19, 1790 – South Carolina is 4th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, approved all
  • January 25, 1790 – New Hampshire is 5th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, rejected article II.
  • January 28, 1790 – Delaware is 6th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, rejected article I
  • February 24, 1790 – New York is 7th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, rejected article II
  • March 10, 1790 – Pennsylvania is 8th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, rejected article II
  • May 29, 1790 – Rhode Island is 13th state to ratify the Constitution, rejected article II
  • June 7, 1790 – Rhode Island is 9th state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
  • October 17, 1790 – Treaty between New York and Vermont paves way for Vermont's admission to the union.
  • January 10, 1791 – Vermont becomes 14th state to ratify the Constitution — except that it's not a state until March 4, 1791.
  • November 3, 1791 – Vermont is 10th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, approved all
  • December 15, 1791 – Virginia is 11th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, approved all and the Bill of Rights goes into effect.
  • March 2, 1792 – Massachusetts is 12th state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
  • March 18, 1792 – Georgia is 13th state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
  • April 19, 1792 – Connecticut is 14th state to ratify the Bill of Rights.


Articles III to XII were ratified by 11/14 states (> 75%). Article I
Article The First
Article the First is the first proposed amendment to the United States Constitution though it has not yet been ratified...

, rejected by Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

, was ratified only by 10/14 States (< 75%), and despite later ratification by Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 (11/15 states < 75%), the article has never since received the approval of enough states for it to become part of the Constitution. Article II was ratified by 6/14, later 7/15 states, but did not receive the 3/4 majority of States needed for ratification until 1992 when it became the 27th Amendment
Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-seventh Amendment prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of the Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives...

.

Later consideration

Lawmakers in Kentucky, which became the 15th state to join the Union in June 1792, ratified the entire set of twelve proposals during that commonwealth
Commonwealth (United States)
Four of the constituent states of the United States officially designate themselves Commonwealths: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia....

's initial month of statehood, perhaps unaware — given the nature of long-distance communications in the 1700s — that Virginia's approval six months earlier had already made ten of the package of twelve part of the Constitution.

Although ratification made the Bill of Rights effective in 1791, three of the original thirteen states — Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, and Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 — did not ratify the first ten amendments until 1939, when they were urged to do so in a celebration of the 150th anniversary of their passage by Congress.

Preamble

Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Amendments

  • First Amendment
    First Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

    Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech
    Freedom of speech
    Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

    , of the press
    Freedom of the press
    Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

    , and of assembly
    Freedom of assembly
    Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests...

    ; right to petition
    Right to petition in the United States
    In the United States the right to petition is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the federal constitution, which specifically prohibits Congress from abridging "the right of the people...to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."...


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  • Second Amendment
    Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second...

    Militia (United States)
    Militia (United States)
    The role of militia, also known as military service and duty, in the United States is complex and has transformed over time.Spitzer, Robert J.: The Politics of Gun Control, Page 36. Chatham House Publishers, Inc., 1995. " The term militia can be used to describe any number of groups within the...

    , Sovereign state
    Sovereign state
    A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

    , Right to keep and bear arms.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  • Third Amendment
    Third Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights. It was introduced on September 5, 1789, and then three quarters of the states ratified this as well as 9 other amendments on December 15, 1791. It prohibits, in peacetime, the quartering of...

    Protection from quartering
    Quartering Act
    The Quartering Act is the name of at least two 18th-century acts of the Parliament of Great Britain. These Quartering Acts ordered the local governments of the American colonies to provide housing and provisions for British soldiers. They were amendments to the Mutiny Act, which had to be renewed...

     of troops.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

  • Fourth Amendment
    Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause...

    Protection from unreasonable search and seizure
    Search and seizure
    Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime.Some countries have...

    .
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants
Warrant (law)
Most often, the term warrant refers to a specific type of authorization; a writ issued by a competent officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which permits an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the writ protection from damages if the act is...

 shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  • Fifth Amendment
    Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...

    due process
    Due process
    Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

    , double jeopardy
    Double jeopardy
    Double jeopardy is a procedural defense that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same, or similar charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction...

    , self-incrimination
    Self-incrimination
    Self-incrimination is the act of accusing oneself of a crime for which a person can then be prosecuted. Self-incrimination can occur either directly or indirectly: directly, by means of interrogation where information of a self-incriminatory nature is disclosed; indirectly, when information of a...

    , eminent domain
    Eminent domain
    Eminent domain , compulsory purchase , resumption/compulsory acquisition , or expropriation is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent...

    .
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

  • Sixth Amendment
    Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which sets forth rights related to criminal prosecutions...

    Trial by jury
    Trial by Jury
    Trial by Jury is a comic opera in one act, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was first produced on 25 March 1875, at London's Royalty Theatre, where it initially ran for 131 performances and was considered a hit, receiving critical praise and outrunning its...

     and rights of the accused
    Rights of the accused
    The rights of the accused is a "class" of civil and political rights that apply to a person accused of a crime, from when he or she is arrested and charged to when he or she is either convicted or acquitted...

    ; Confrontation Clause
    Confrontation Clause
    The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him." Generally, the right is to have a face-to-face confrontation with witnesses who are...

    , speedy trial
    Speedy trial
    Speedy trial refers to one of the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution to defendants in criminal proceedings. The right to a speedy trial, guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, is intended to ensure that defendants are not subjected to unreasonably lengthy incarceration prior to a fair...

    , public trial
    Public trial
    Public trial or open trial is a trial open to public, as opposed to the secret trial. The term should not be confused with show trial.-United States:...

    , right to counsel
    Right to counsel
    Right to counsel is currently generally regarded as a constituent of the right to a fair trial, allowing for the defendant to be assisted by counsel , and if he cannot afford his own lawyer, requiring that the government should appoint one for him/her, or pay his/her legal expenses...

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

  • Seventh Amendment
    Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was ratified as part of the Bill of Rights, codifies the right to a jury trial in certain civil cases. However, in some civil cases, the Supreme Court has not incorporated the right to a jury trial to the states in the fashion which...

    Civil
    Civil law (common law)
    Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

     trial by jury.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

  • Eighth Amendment
    Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment's Cruel and Unusual...

    Prohibition of excessive bail
    Excessive bail
    The Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits excessive bail set in pre-trial detention.The Clause was drafted in response to the perceived excessiveness of bail in England. Excessive bail was also prohibited by the English Bill of Rights...

     and cruel and unusual punishment
    Cruel and unusual punishment
    Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing criminal punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering or humiliation it inflicts on the condemned person...

    .
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

  • Ninth Amendment
    Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, addresses rights of the people that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.-Text:-Adoption:When the U.S...

    Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

  • Tenth Amendment
    Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791...

    Powers of States and people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Proposed amendments not passed with Bill of Rights

  • Article I Apportionment
    Article The First
    Article the First is the first proposed amendment to the United States Constitution though it has not yet been ratified...

    .
After the enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than two hundred representatives, nor more than one representative for every fifty thousand persons.

  • Article II (ratified in 1992 as Twenty-seventh Amendment
    Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Twenty-seventh Amendment prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of the Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives...

    ) Congressional pay raises.
No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

The Bill of Rights

It is commonly understood that originally the Bill of Rights was not intended to apply to the states; however, there is no such limit in the text itself, except where an amendment refers specifically to the federal government. One example is the First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

, which says only that "Congress shall make no law...", and under which some states in the early years of the nation officially established a religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

. A rule of inapplicability to the states remained until 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

 was passed, which stated, in part, that:
The Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to extend most, but not all, parts of the Bill of Rights to the states, a process known as incorporation of the Bill of Rights. The balance of state and federal power under the incorporation doctrine is still an open question and continues to be fought separately for each right in the federal courts.

The amendments that became the Bill of Rights were the last ten of the twelve amendments proposed in 1789. The second of the twelve proposed amendments, regarding the compensation of members of Congress, remained unratified until 1992, when the legislatures of enough states finally approved it; as a result, after pending for two centuries, it became the Twenty-seventh Amendment
Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-seventh Amendment prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of the Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives...

.

The first of the twelve
Article The First
Article the First is the first proposed amendment to the United States Constitution though it has not yet been ratified...

, which is still technically pending before the state legislatures for ratification, pertains to the apportionment of the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 after each decennial census
United States Census
The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats , electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau The United States Census...

. The most recent state whose lawmakers are known to have ratified this proposal is Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 in 1792, during that commonwealth's first month of statehood.
  • First Amendment
    First Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

    : addresses the rights of freedom of religion
    Freedom of religion in the United States
    In the United States, freedom of religion is a constitutionally guaranteed right provided in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is also closely associated with separation of church and state, a concept advocated by Thomas Jefferson....

     (prohibiting Congress from making a law "respecting an establishment" of religion
    Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
    The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating, Together with the Free Exercise Clause The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,...

     and protecting the right to free exercise of religion
    Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment
    The Free Exercise Clause is the accompanying clause with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause together read:...

    ), freedom of speech
    Freedom of speech
    Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

    , freedom of the press
    Freedom of the press
    Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

    , freedom of assembly
    Freedom of assembly
    Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests...

    , and freedom of petition.
  • Second Amendment
    Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second...

    : guarantees the right of individuals to possess weapons. The most recent Supreme Court decision interpreting the Second Amendment is McDonald v. Chicago
    McDonald v. Chicago
    McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S.Ct. 3020 , was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that determined whether the Second Amendment applies to the individual states...

    .
  • Third Amendment
    Third Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights. It was introduced on September 5, 1789, and then three quarters of the states ratified this as well as 9 other amendments on December 15, 1791. It prohibits, in peacetime, the quartering of...

    : prohibits the government from using private homes as quarters for soldiers during peacetime without the consent of the owners. The only existing case law directly regarding this amendment is a decision of the Court of Appeals (the appellate level between the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Supreme Court) in the case of Engblom v. Carey
    Engblom v. Carey
    Engblom v. Carey, 677 F.2d 957 , was a court case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. It is the only significant court decision based on a direct challenge under the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution.-The case:The case was initiated by a 1979 strike...

    . However, it is also cited in the landmark case, Griswold v. Connecticut
    Griswold v. Connecticut
    Griswold v. Connecticut, , was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives...

    , in support of the Supreme Court's holding that the constitution protects the right to personal privacy.
  • Fourth Amendment
    Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause...

    : guards against searches, arrests, and seizures
    Search and seizure
    Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime.Some countries have...

     of property
    Property
    Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

     without a specific warrant or a "probable cause
    Probable cause
    In United States criminal law, probable cause is the standard by which an officer or agent of the law has the grounds to make an arrest, to conduct a personal or property search, or to obtain a warrant for arrest, etc. when criminal charges are being considered. It is also used to refer to the...

    " to believe a crime has been committed. Some rights to privacy have been inferred from this amendment and others by the Supreme Court.
  • Fifth Amendment
    Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...

    : forbids trial
    Trial (law)
    In law, a trial is when parties to a dispute come together to present information in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court...

     for a major crime
    Crime
    Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

     except after indictment
    Indictment
    An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

     by a grand jury
    Grand jury
    A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

    ; prohibits double jeopardy
    Double jeopardy
    Double jeopardy is a procedural defense that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same, or similar charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction...

     (repeated trials), except in certain very limited circumstances; forbids punishment without due process
    Due process
    Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

     of law; and provides that an accused person may not be compelled to testify against himself
    Self-incrimination
    Self-incrimination is the act of accusing oneself of a crime for which a person can then be prosecuted. Self-incrimination can occur either directly or indirectly: directly, by means of interrogation where information of a self-incriminatory nature is disclosed; indirectly, when information of a...

     (this is also known as "Taking the Fifth
    Taking the Fifth
    The Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "no person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."...

    " or "Pleading the Fifth"). This is regarded as the "rights of the accused" amendment, otherwise known as the Miranda rights after the Supreme Court case. It also prohibits government from taking private property for public use without "just compensation
    Just compensation
    Just Compensation is required to be paid by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when private property is taken for public use...

    ", the basis of eminent domain
    Eminent domain
    Eminent domain , compulsory purchase , resumption/compulsory acquisition , or expropriation is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent...

     in the United States.
  • Sixth Amendment
    Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which sets forth rights related to criminal prosecutions...

    : guarantees a speedy public trial for criminal offenses. It requires trial by a jury
    Jury
    A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

    , guarantees the right to legal counsel for the accused, and guarantees that the accused may require witness
    Witness
    A witness is someone who has firsthand knowledge about an event, or in the criminal justice systems usually a crime, through his or her senses and can help certify important considerations about the crime or event. A witness who has seen the event first hand is known as an eyewitness...

    es to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the accused. It also guarantees the accused a right to know the charges against him. The Sixth Amendment has several court cases associated with it, including Powell v. Alabama
    Powell v. Alabama
    Powell v. Alabama was a United States Supreme Court decision which determined that in a capital trial, the defendant must be given access to counsel upon his or her own request as part of due process.-Background of the case:...

    , United States v. Wong Kim Ark
    United States v. Wong Kim Ark
    United States v. Wong Kim Ark, , was a United States Supreme Court decision that set an important legal precedent about the role of jus soli as a factor in determining a person's claim to United States citizenship...

    , Gideon v. Wainwright
    Gideon v. Wainwright
    Gideon v. Wainwright, , is a landmark case in United States Supreme Court history. In the case, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state courts are required under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford their own...

    , and Crawford v. Washington
    Crawford v. Washington
    Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 , is a United States Supreme Court decision that reformulated the standard for determining when the admission of hearsay statements in criminal cases is permitted under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment...

    . In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that the fifth amendment prohibition on forced self-incrimination and the sixth amendment clause on right to counsel were to be made known to all persons placed under arrest, and these clauses have become known as the Miranda rights
    Miranda warning
    The Miranda warning is a warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings. In Miranda v...

    .
  • Seventh Amendment
    Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was ratified as part of the Bill of Rights, codifies the right to a jury trial in certain civil cases. However, in some civil cases, the Supreme Court has not incorporated the right to a jury trial to the states in the fashion which...

    : assures trial by jury in civil cases
    Civil law (common law)
    Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

    .
  • Eighth Amendment
    Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment's Cruel and Unusual...

    : forbids excessive bail
    Bail
    Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

     or fines, and cruel and unusual punishment
    Cruel and unusual punishment
    Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing criminal punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering or humiliation it inflicts on the condemned person...

    .
  • Ninth Amendment
    Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, addresses rights of the people that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.-Text:-Adoption:When the U.S...

    : declares that the listing of individual rights in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not meant to be comprehensive; and that the other rights not specifically mentioned are retained by the people.
  • Tenth Amendment
    Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791...

    : reserves to the states respectively, or to the people, any powers the Constitution did not delegate to the United States, nor prohibit the states from exercising.

Status of the original 14 copies

George Washington had fourteen handwritten copies of the Bill of Rights made, one for Congress and one for each of the original thirteen states: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia.

The copies for Georgia, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania are missing. The New York copy is thought to have been destroyed in a fire, whereas the Pennsylvania copy reportedly disappeared in the later 18th century. Two unidentified copies of the missing four (thought to be the Georgia and Maryland copies) survive; one is in the National Archives and the other is in the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...

.

North Carolina's copy was stolen by a Union soldier in April 1865 and returned to North Carolina in 2005, 140 years later by FBI Special Agent Robert King Wittman
Robert King Wittman
Robert King "Bob" Wittman is a highly decorated Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent who was assigned to the Philadelphia Field Division from 1988 to 2008. As a result of specialized training in art, antiques, jewelry and gem identification, Wittman served as the FBI's "top investigator...

.

Virginia's copy was used for the Bill of Rights Tour, to mark the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights, in 1991.

Excluded from The Bill of Rights

Originally, the Bill of Rights restrictions applied only to the federal government and not to the state governments. Parts of the amendments originally proposed by Madison that would have limited state governments ("No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.") were not approved by Congress, and therefore the Bill of Rights did not apply to the powers of state governments.

States had established state churches
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 up until the 1820s, and Southern states
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, beginning in the 1830s, could ban abolitionist
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 literature. In the 1833 case Barron v. Baltimore
Barron v. Baltimore
Barron v. Mayor of Baltimore, 32 U.S. 243 established a precedent on whether the United States Bill of Rights could be applied to state governments.John Barron co-owned a profitable wharf in the Baltimore harbor...

, the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 specifically ruled that the Bill of Rights provided "security against the apprehended encroachments of the general government—not against those of local governments." In the Gitlow v. New York
Gitlow v. New York
Gitlow v. New York, , was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution had extended the reach of certain provisions of the First Amendment—specifically the provisions protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the...

, 268 U.S. 652, (1925)
case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, which had been adopted in 1868, could make certain applications of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states. However, the Gitlow case stated (p. 666): "For present purposes we may and do presume that freedom of speech and of the press — which are protected by the First Amendment from abridgment by Congress — are among the fundamental personal rights and 'liberties' protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the States." However at p. 668, the Court held: "It does not protect publications prompting the overthrow of government by force", which Gitlow and associates advocated in their publications. The Supreme Court has cited Gitlow v. New York as precedent for a series of decisions that made most, but not all, of the provisions of the Bill of Rights restrictions applicable to the states under the doctrine of selective incorporation.

The Bill of Rights applied to white men who owned property and excluded most Americans. Free blacks were excluded from The Bill Of Rights because they were not citizens. Also excluded were all women, Native Americans, immigrants and white men who did not own land.

Display and honoring of the Bill of Rights

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 declared December 15 to be Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights is on display at the National Archives and Records Administration
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

, in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

The Rotunda itself was constructed in the 1950s and dedicated in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

, who said, "Only as these documents are reflected in the thoughts and acts of Americans, can they remain symbols of power that can move the world. That power is our faith in human liberty ...."

After fifty years, signs of deterioration in the casing were noted, while the documents themselves appeared to be well-preserved: "But if the ink of 1787 was holding its own, the encasements of 1951 were not ... minute crystals and microdroplets of liquid were found on surfaces of the two glass sheets over each document.... The CMS scans confirmed evidence of progressive glass deterioration, which was a major impetus in deciding to re-encase the Charters of Freedom."

Accordingly, the casing was updated and the Rotunda rededicated on September 17, 2003. In his dedicatory remarks, two hundred and sixteen years after the close of the Constitutional Convention, President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 stated, "The true [American] revolution was not to defy one earthly power, but to declare principles that stand above every earthly power—the equality of each person before God, and the responsibility of government to secure the rights of all."

In 1991, the Bill of Rights toured the country in honor of its bicentennial, visiting the capitals of all fifty states.

See also

  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
    Bill of Rights Defense Committee
    The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is a national grassroots organization that educates and mobilizes people from all walks of life to defend the Constitution in their local communities all across the country...

  • Four Freedoms
    Four Freedoms
    The Four Freedoms were goals articulated by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. In an address known as the Four Freedoms speech , he proposed four fundamental freedoms that people "everywhere in the world" ought to enjoy:# Freedom of speech and expression# Freedom of worship#...

  • G.I. Bill
  • Institute of Bill of Rights Law
    Institute of Bill of Rights Law
    The Institute of Bill of Rights Law , founded in 1982, is a renowned center for the study of constitutional law. It is located at the William & Mary School of Law in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

  • Second Bill of Rights
    Second Bill of Rights
    The Second Bill of Rights was a list of rights proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the then President of the United States, during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944. In his address Roosevelt suggested that the nation had come to recognize, and should now implement, a second "bill...

  • Taxpayer Bill of Rights
    Taxpayer Bill of Rights
    The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is a concept advocated by conservative and free market libertarian groups, primarily in the United States, as a way of limiting the growth of government...

  • U.S. Patients' Bill of Rights
    U.S. Patients' Bill of Rights
    A Patient's Bill of Rights is a statement of the rights to which patients are entitled as recipients of medical care. Typically, a statement articulates the positive rights which doctors and hospitals ought to provide patients, thereby providing information, offering fair treatment, and granting...

  • Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
    Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
    The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was drafted in 1777 by Thomas Jefferson in the city of Fredericksburg, Virginia. In 1786, the Assembly enacted the statute into the state's law...


External links

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