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Other Internet Resources on the Bill of Rights
Before Drafting the Bill of Rights, James Madison Argued the Constitution Was Fine Without It
Freedom of speech, religion and the press. The right to assemble, bear arms and due process. These are just some of the first 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. But they weren’t included in the original U.S. Constitution, and James Madison, the bill’s chief drafter, had to be convinced they belonged in the country’s supreme law.
Madison was actually once the Bill of Rights’ chief opponent. In his book, The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents, Corey Brettschneider, a political science professor at Brown University, writes that when the founding father entered the race for Congress as a candidate for the state of Virginia in 1788, the issue of whether America needed a Bill of Rights was a dominating campaign issue. George Mason, a fellow Virginian, had refused to sign the Constitution without a Bill of Rights. But Madison argued it was unnecessary and perhaps even harmful.
His reasoning? “Madison might have felt like a master chef watching a patron pour ketchup all over his perfectly cooked steak,” Brettschneider writes. “He considered his work crafting the Constitution so thorough that there was nothing to amend: Article I limited the powers of Congress, and Article II constrained the president. A Bill of Rights was redundant at best𠅊nd dangerous at worst.”
The Bill of Rights is made up of the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution.
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Madison and many of the framers also worried that an explicit guarantee of rights would be too limiting, Brettschneider adds.
“They believed the structure of the new Constitution by itself placed limits on government, so they were concerned that by listing some rights, the government might think it had the power to do anything it was not explicitly forbidden from doing,” he says.
Virginians, however, didn’t trust that Article I and Article II would protect their rights, and demanded such a bill, according to Brettschneider. Madison, partly for political survival, eventually campaigned on introducing a Bill of Rights, and won his election against James Monroe.
Tony Williams, senior teaching fellow at the Bill of Rights Institute, says Thomas Jefferson, through a series of letters written from Paris, helped persuade Madison to change his mind, as well.
𠇊 bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against any government on earth, general or particular, and what no government should refuse, or rest on inference,” Jefferson wrote to Madison in a letter from December 20, 1787.
But more importantly, Williams says, Madison wanted to quell the opposition of the anti-Federalists to the new government by proposing a Bill of Rights in the First Congress.
“The Federalists had also promised the anti-Federalists amendments protecting rights during the ratification debate, and he wanted to fulfill that promise,” he says.
Madison, tasked with writing the new amendments, addressed some of his concerns by including the Ninth Amendment, that states rights are not limited to those listed in the Constitution, and the 10th Amendment, which limits the federal government’s powers to those granted specifically in the Constitution and its amendments.
“The Bill of Rights are important assertions of natural and civil rights of the individual, and the critical Ninth Amendment is a reminder that the people have other rights not listed in the first eight amendments,” Williams says.
The Virginia Bill of Rights drafted by George Mason and adopted at the 1776 Convention of Delegates.
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Drawing on Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, as well as Britain&aposs Magna Carta and other documents, Madison introduced the Bill of Rights in Congress on June 8, 1789, and it was ratified on December 15, 1791.
Democracy, Brettschneider says, is often thought to mean majority rule, but the Bill of Rights includes many guarantees of minority rights that are equally necessary to self-government.
“The First Amendment right to free speech means that citizens can criticize their leaders without facing criminal punishment,” he says. “The right to assembly, also in the First Amendment, means citizens can protest government policies we disagree with.”
Other rights declared in the document ensure that citizens are not treated arbitrarily by the state. Under the Fifth Amendment, all citizens are guaranteed 𠇍ue process” in the legal system. The Eighth Amendment, meanwhile, by banning 𠇌ruel and unusual” punishment, ensures the government can’t use criminal law to, as Brettschneider says, “make citizens docile and afraid.”
"It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act," Madison said in an 1829 speech in Virginia, "and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted."
The Glorious Revolution, which took place in England from 1688-1689, involved the ousting of King James II.
Both political and religious motives sparked the revolution. Many English citizens were distrustful of the Catholic king and disapproved of the monarchy’s outright power.
Tensions were high between Parliament and the king, and Catholics and Protestants were also at odds.
James II was eventually replaced by his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her Dutch husband, William of Orange. The two leaders formed a joint monarchy and agreed to give Parliament more rights and power.
Part of this settlement included signing the English Bill of Rights, which was formally known as 𠇊n Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown.”
Among its many provisions, the Bill of Rights condemned King James II for abusing his power and declared that the monarchy could not rule without consent of the Parliament.
Multicultural Education Internet Resource Guide
This guide was created to assist multicultural educators in locating educational resources on the Internet. World wide access to multicultural information and current events in other regions makes the Internet an important educational tool. Teachers through the internet have access to lesson plans, on-line photo galleries, stories, maps, virtual field trip, international radio programming, and e-mail pen pals. In the multicultural classroom these resources can be used to create thematic units. Other sites, such as those devoted to art and geography can supplement an existing lesson. Many of the sites listed are source sites with lessons, pictures, problems and quizzes on-line, and other sites are Index sites which provide extensive links related to a subject of interest. Teachers should keep in mind that the Internet is a temporary resource, and sites move and change rapidly. A listing of professional organizations for multicultural educators is also provided. Highly recommended sites are marked by an "*".
1. GENERAL MULTICULTURAL
*Awesome Library http://www.awesomelibrary.org/Classroom/Social_Studies/Multicultural/Multicultural.html
This site organizes 14,000 resources. Find lesson plans, field trips, photos, maps, and online video. A really good and well-organized site.
*Critical Multicultural Pavilion http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/
Varous resources on multicultural education. See in particular the Multicultural Pavilion Teacher's Corner: A great site with impressive resources and links. The Teacher's online archives have children's literature, historic documents, tribal documents, and speeches by Martin Luther King, Mandela and others. Teachers' Toolbox has a photo gallery and multicultural song index. Historic African-American literature collection online for older students. There are also good links to multicultural ed. resources.
Digital History http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/
Includes Asian American, Enslaved, Mexican American, and Native American Voices along with teaching materials, active learning, multimedia and much else.
Edutopia: Preparing for Cultural Diversity https://www.edutopia.org/blog/preparing-cultural-diversity-resources-teachers
Resources for teachers, including links to other sites that focus on diversity.
How To Provide Multicultural Education https://onlinegrad.baylor.edu/resources/multicultural-education-strategies/
A Baylor University site that includes information on how to incorporate multicultural education in the classroom.
Good links to multi-cultural resources, telefield trips to Ancient Egypt, the American West, Russia, museum links, and more.
George Mason and the Bill of Rights A biography by Gary Williams, a librarian and freelance writer who lives in Ohio.
George Mason 1725-1792 A biography by From Revolution to Reconstruction.
Founder of the Month: George Mason From the Bill of Rights Institute.
George Mason Online Resources on Mason. From Gunston Hall Plantation.
The Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) The document written by George Mason. (Primary source document)
Objections to This Constitution of Government George Mason's 16 objections to the Constitution. (Primary source document)
LInks to Sites on the Bill of Rights - History
Once the Constitution was written, not everyone thought that it was the best form of government for the United States. Those who supported the Constitution were called the Federalists - those who were opposed to the Constitution were called the Antifederalists.
The main argument that the Antifederalists used was that the Constitution had no bill of rights, or a list of rights that the citizens of the United States had.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS
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.
OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS CITIZENS
The Constitution guarantees that we have certain rights as United States citizens.These rights are very important, and it is important that we do our part to help safeguard our rights.
As important as our rights are, it is important to recognized that we also have some important responsibilities. Here are some of our responsibilities:
Know Your Rights
It is important that you know you rights so that you can work to protect them, as well of the rights of those around you. Respect the rights of others.
Become Involved in Your Community
While you can't vote yet, you can encourage those who are old enough to vote to go and vote. When you are old enough to vote, take the time to actually learn about the candidates and the issues so that you can make an intelligent choice.
You can also help others become aware of issues that are important to you. Write, text or blog about issues that you feel strongly about. Be responsible as you inform others - you can disagree without being disagreeable and you should always tell the truth.
Be a Good Citizen
When you are old enough you may be called upon to serve on a jury. This is one of the important duties we have as Americans.
You should obey the laws of your city, state and the country. You should also respect others - their property, their religions, and their opinions.
Find time to volunteer and give back to your city, state and country. Support those who have been elected and those who volunteer their time.
One of our duties is to defend the country. Gentlemen, when you turn 18 you must register with the federal government in case the nation needs to call upon you in case of need for military service.
The Bill of Rights
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.Preamble to the Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights
The document on permanent display in the Rotunda is the enrolled original Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 25, 1789, proposing 12-not 10-amendments to the Constitution.
Read a Transcript | View in National Archives Catalog
The Constitution might never have been ratified if the framers hadn't promised to add a Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution gave citizens more confidence in the new government and contain many of today's Americans' most valued freedoms.
18a. The Bill of Rights
Although James Madison was the youngest member of the Continental Congress, his leadership was a critical factor in the development of American government. Madison proposed the Virginia Plan, he authored some of the Federalist Papers, and he wrote the Bill of Rights.
The first national election occurred in 1789. Along with President Washington, voters elected a large number of supporters of the Constitution. In fact, almost half of the ninety-one members of the first Congress had helped to write or ratify the Constitution.
Not surprisingly, given Anti-Federalists' opposition to the strong new central government, only eight opponents of the Constitution were sent to the House of Representatives. Most Anti-Federalists concentrated their efforts in state politics.
Protection of Individual Rights
An immediate issue that the new Congress took up was how to modify the Constitution. Representatives were responding to calls for amendments that had emerged as a chief issue during the ratification process. Crucial states of Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York (among others) had all ultimately supported the Constitution &mdash but only with the expectation that explicit protections for individual rights would be added to the highest law of the land. Now that supporters of the Constitution controlled the federal government, what would they do?
The legal tradition of having a precise statement of individual rights had deep roots in Anglo-American custom. So it's not surprising that the first Congress amended the Constitution by adding what became known as the Bill of Rights.
Amendment 10: "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."
James Madison, now a member of Congress from Virginia, once again took the leading role crafting proposed amendments that would be sent to the states for approval. Madison skillfully reviewed numerous proposals and examples from state constitutions and ultimately selected nineteen potential amendments to the Constitution.
As one might expect, the nationalist Madison took care to make sure that none of the proposed amendments would fundamentally weaken the new central government. In the end, ten amendments were ratified in 1791.
These first ten amendments to the Constitution became known as the Bill of Rights and still stand as both the symbol and foundation of American ideals of individual liberty, limited government , and the rule of law. Most of the Bill of Rights concerns legal protections for those accused of crimes.
Rights and Protections Guaranteed in the Bill of Rights
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of assembly
- Right to petition the government
- Right to bear arms
- Protection against housing soldiers in civilian homes
- Protection against unreasonable search and seizure
- Protection against the issuing of warrants without probable cause
- Protection against
- trial without indictment
- double jeopardy
- property seizure
- Right to a speedy trial
- Right to be informed of charges
- Right to be confronted by witnesses
- Right to call witnesses
- Right to a legal counsel
- Right to trial by jury
- Protection against
- excessive bail
- excessive fines
- cruel and unusual punishment
- Rights granted in the Constitution shall not infringe on other rights.
- Powers not granted to the Federal Government in the Constitution belong to the states or the people.
For instance, the fourth through eighth amendments provide protection from unreasonable search and seizure , the privilege against self-incrimination , and the right to a fair and speedy jury trial that will be free from unusual punishments.
The First Amendment , perhaps the broadest and most famous of the Bill of Rights, establishes a range of political and civil rights including those of free speech , assembly, press, and religion.
The last two amendments, respectively, spell out that this list of individual protections is not meant to exclude other ones, and, by contrast, set forth that all powers claimed by the federal government had to be expressly stated in the Constitution.
The Full Text of the Bill of Rights
Amendment I 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.
Amendment II 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.
Amendment III 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.
Amendment IV 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.
Amendment V 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 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.
Amendment VI 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.
Amendment VII 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.
Amendment VIII Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment IX The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X 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.
While the Bill of Rights created no deep challenge to federal authority, it did respond to the central Anti-Federalist fear that the Constitution would unleash an oppressive central government too distant from the people to be controlled.
By responding to this opposition and following through on the broadly expressed desire for amendments that emerged during the ratification process, the Bill of Rights helped to secure broad political support for the new national government. A first major domestic issue had been successfully resolved.
Understanding the Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights remains an active force in contemporary American life as a major element of Constitutional law . The meaning of its protections remains hotly debated. For example, the privilege to bear arms to support a militia, which appears in the second amendment, produces significant political controversy today.
More sweepingly, the extension of the Bill of Rights to protect individuals from abuse not only by the federal government, but also from state and local governments remains an unsettled aspect of Constitutional interpretation.
Originally, the protections were solely meant to limit the federal government, but with the fourteenth amendment's guarantee in 1868 that no state could deprive its citizens of the protections in the Bill of Rights this original view began to be expanded. To this day the Supreme Court has not definitively decided if the entire Bill of Rights should always be applied to all levels of government.
US Constitution: Civil Liberties in the Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights is the collection of the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution. (Image: Scott Rothstein/ Shutterstock)
Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Civil liberties and civil rights are core features of American political institutions.
A civil liberty is a specific individual right under the US Constitution that is protected from government infringement. One can think of it as a freedom from government power. A civil right, on the other hand, is the right of a group of people to be treated equally by the government. One can think of this as protection by government.
In fact, most of the rights mentioned in the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution are phrased in a negative way, to show that the freedom is guaranteed by preventing government from having the authority to restrict some behavior.
There are number of important liberties which government cannot limit. There’s a clause about religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government. These five liberties are seen as essential components of a free society.
Bill of Rights
American civil liberty protections are found in the Bill of Rights. It’s the collection of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution.
During the time of the drafting of the Constitution, the framers disagreed about whether or not civil liberties should be included in the text of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was ultimately adopted as a part of a compromise struck between two competitive political coalitions known as the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.
This is a transcript from the video series Understanding the US Government. Watch it now, Wondrium.
George Mason favored explicit protections for civil liberties. (Image: Larry Prock/Shutterstock)
The compromise came about because George Mason, a delegate from Virginia, advocated for the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the body of the Constitution. But not all the framers were of one mind on this topic. Alexander Hamilton, for instance, strongly disagreed with Mason.
Hamilton and others argued that the purpose of the Constitution was to outline the powers of the government. They were concerned that explicit statements about limiting government’s powers in the very document which provides those powers would undercut the authority of the government before it even got off the ground.
In the spirit of compromise, Mason and others who favored explicit protections for civil liberties agreed to ratify the Constitution in exchange for a guarantee that the Bill of Rights would be adopted as amendments to the Constitution immediately upon its ratification.
The Constitution was ratified in 1788, and when the first Congress met the following year, its primary order of business was to write and debate civil liberty protections in the form of amendments to the freshly adopted Constitution.
Finally, on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was adopted as part of the US Constitution.
The 10 Amendments
The House of Representatives had adopted 17 amendments as a part of the Bill of Rights, and the Senate had agreed to 12 of them. But only 10 of these Amendments were ratified by the necessary number of states.
The First Amendment includes the inability of government to restrict freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. The Second Amendment prohibits the government from infringing upon the right to keep and bear arms. The Third Amendment guarantees that the government will not require people to provide housing for US soldiers in their own homes without first making a law to do so.
The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure, and the means for obtaining a warrant when a search is needed. The Fifth Amendment concerns protections from being tried twice for the same crime, from testifying against oneself, and includes the right to due process of law. The Sixth Amendment includes the right to a speedy trial and legal counsel.
The Seventh Amendment includes the right to a jury trial. The Eighth Amendment includes protection from excessive bail and fines, as well as from cruel and unusual punishment. The Ninth Amendment says the Constitution cannot be used to deny people rights, rather it guarantees them. And the Tenth Amendment more or less says that rights not guaranteed in the Constitution are within the power of states.
Amendments and Rights of Prisoners
It is interesting to note that Amendments four, five, six, and eight all have to do with prisoners.
During the time that the colonies were ruled by England and throughout the Revolutionary period, the colonists came to see wrongful adjudication of crimes and criminal injustice as part of their chief complaints about living under the crown.
One of the characteristics of a more advanced or civilized society is that it includes a justice system where the accused have guaranteed rights. These values are strongly reflected in the American Bill of Rights.
Due Process Clause
The due process clauses in the Fifth and 14th Amendments work together to protect civil liberties at the state level. (Image: zimmytws/Shutterstock)
The Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment states, in part, that no one can be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
This Due Process Clause has been interpreted by the American judiciary to mean that all of the civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights constitute rights that the federal government cannot take away from individuals. However, it doesn’t say anything about whether or not state governments could restrict civil liberties.
It wasn’t until the 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868 that the Constitution included a mechanism that could guarantee civil liberties at the state level as well as the federal level. The Due Process Clauses in the Fifth and 14th Amendments have worked together to be interpreted by the judiciary to protect civil liberties at the state level.
Civil liberty protections at the state level have been guaranteed through a process known as selective incorporation.
Selective incorporation refers to the process of individual civil liberties being guaranteed at the state level one at a time through a series of Supreme Court decisions. The court system is designed to interpret laws and the Constitution to help build a body of legal rulings. Over time, these rulings have become a part of American law and its system of justice. By issuing rulings in cases, the courts can expand upon or constrain existing laws.
Common Questions about Civil Liberties in the Bill of Rights
A civil liberty is a specific individual right that is protected from government infringement under the US Constitution.
The Bill of Rights was adopted as part of the US Constitution on December 15, 1791.
The Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment states, in part, that no one can be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Also, Bill Gates can jump over chairs
Bill Gates doesn't seem to be the sportiest chap around, but that doesn't mean he completely lacks physical ability. In an interview with Connie Chung in 1994, she pulled out the hard questions. "Is it true you can leap over a chair from a standing position?" Whoa, that's some real gotcha journalism. But Gates happily admitted that he can jump over chairs, though "it depends on the size of the chair." Good move, Gates.
Chung could have pulled out some Iron Throne-type stuff and really made him look like an idiot. But Gates was happy to jump over a regular office chair, and the world now knows of his prowess in vertical leaps.
Watch the video: History of the Bill of Rights No. 86 (September 2022).