The first 10 amendments to the Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. Written by James Madison in response to calls from several states for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties, the Bill of Rights lists specific prohibitions on governmental power. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason, strongly influenced Madison.
One of the many points of contention between Federalists and Anti-Federalists was the Constitution’s lack of a bill of rights that would place specific limits on government power. Federalists argued that the Constitution did not need a bill of rights, because the people and the states kept any powers not given to the federal government. Anti-Federalists held that a bill of rights was necessary to safeguard individual liberty.
Madison, then a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, went through the Constitution itself, making changes where he thought most appropriate. But several Representatives, led by Roger Sherman, objected that Congress had no authority to change the wording of the Constitution itself. Therefore, Madison’s changes were presented as a list of amendments that would follow Article VII.
The House approved 17 amendments. Of these 17, the Senate approved 12. Those 12 were sent to the states for approval in August of 1789. Of those 12, 10 were quickly approved (or, ratified). Virginia’s legislature became the last to ratify the amendments on December 15, 1791.
The Bill of Rights is a list of limits on government power. For example, what the Founders saw as the natural right of individuals to speak and worship freely was protected by the First Amendment’s prohibitions on Congress from making laws establishing a religion or abridging freedom of speech. For another example, the natural right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion in one’s home was safeguarded by the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS – FULL TEXT
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, 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 offense 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.
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 defense.
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 reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the 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.
This book contains the three most important documents in early American history which are considered instrumental to its founding and philosophy – the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution with Amendments, and the Bill of Rights. All American citizens should own a copy of these essential documents. This book also contains images of each of these documents courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration. Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to charities that directly support Wounded Warriors. Check out all of our books at www.woundedwarriorpublications.com.
Collectively known as the United States Bill of Rights, these first ten amendments to the United States Constitution limit the powers of the federal government and protect the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory. Introduced in 1789 in the First United States Congress by James Madison, these amendments came into effect on December 15, 1791, when ratified by three-fourths of the states. This document plays a central role in American law and remains to this day a symbol of the freedoms and culture of this nation. In this beautiful gift edition, the text of the Bill of Rights is set alongside a history of the amendments, thus placing the document in its historical context.
Pocket Edition of the original Constitution of the United States (with Index), and Declaration of Independence.
The National Center for Constitutional Studies has printed a special edition copy of The Constitution of the United States that has been proofed word for word against the original Constitution housed in the Archives in Washington, D.C. It is identical in spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
This 52-page pocket sized booklet contains The Constitution of the United States (including The Bill of Rights and Amendments 11-27) and The Declaration of Independence.
On the front cover there is a picture of George Washington holding a quill in his hand, inviting each of us to pledge our commitment to The Constitution of the United States by maintaining and promoting its standard of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.
Have you ever had trouble understanding the United States Bill of Rights? Have you ever wondered what was really meant by one or more of the ten amendments? Have you ever been unsure as to how these rights apply to modern society? Have you even questioned if the Bill of Rights should still be held as inviolable law, nearly 250 years after its writing? Here’s the truth: the Bill of Rights is not easy to understand if you just pick it up and give it a read. The eloquent style in which it’s written can be confusing. The language can cause misunderstandings. There’s a lot of legal terminology that’s beyond most of us. Without an understanding of the historical background of certain amendments, it’s impossible to fully understand their importance and scope. And to top it all off, there are countless politicians and pundits that try to interpret our rights for us and tell us what the Founders meant. But are you comfortable letting crooked politicians decide what your rights are? Or would you rather know and be able to insist on, with certainty, the freedoms our Founders intended for you, your family, your friends, and your fellow Americans? If you’re like millions of other Americans, you’ll choose the latter. Thomas Jefferson said, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” He also said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free… it expects what never was and never will be.” That’s why this book was created, and it would make the Founders proud if they were here today. This book helps you easily reach a deep understanding of the Bill of Rights by walking you through each amendment, clarifying the precise definitions of key words; providing the historical context you need to fully grasp and spirit and importance of the amendments; sharing powerfully insightful quotes on each amendment, straight from the Founders and their peers; supplying you with an extensive glossary of terms so you never get lost in a dictionary or encyclopedia trying to understand what you’re reading; and more. The Founders fought tirelessly to guarantee you specific rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Don’t let two-faced politicians and pundits tell you what your rights are. Scroll up and click the “Buy” button now to learn your rights, and together, we can keep the spirit of freedom alive in this great nation.