The Bill of Rights 1791 – The USA

The Bill of Rights 1791 – The USA

The Bill of Rights 1791 – The USA
The Bill of Rights 1791 – The USA

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826),

James Madison (1751–1836)

The Bill of Rights is a collection of the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, which were enacted as a single entity in 1791. It outlines the people’s rights in respect to their government in the United States.

Three delegates to the Constitutional Convention, including George Mason, refused to sign the document due to the lack of a bill of rights. He was one of many who opposed ratification of the document because of that omission, and some states only ratified it on the condition that a bill of rights would be included as soon as possible.

In crafting the 19 amendments that he delivered to the United States House of Representatives on June 8, 1789, James Madison relied on the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, which was mostly authored by George Mason. On September 25, the House passed 17 of them and submitted them to the Senate, which approved 12 of them. The states approved ten of them, and they became law on December 15, 1791.

According to the Bill of Rights, the government cannot create a specific religion and may not restrict people’s or media’ freedom of expression. It also establishes stringent restrictions on how far the government may go in enforcing laws. Finally, it safeguards people’s undefined rights.

The Bill of Rights originally solely pertained to the federal government. (One of the amendments rejected by the US Senate would have extended such rights to state laws as well.) The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) did, however, prohibit states from restricting citizens’ rights without due process, and the United States Supreme Court eventually applied most of the Bill of Rights’ protections to state governments beginning in the twentieth century.

SEE ALSO:

The Magna Carta (1215);

The U.S. Constitution (1787);

The Equal Rights Amendment (1972).

Sources:

The Bill of Rights 1791 – The USA

The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)

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