Today's Topic: the Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution.
The Bill of Rights guarantees personal rights to all people living in the United States.
During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, some people wanted a strong federal government and some people wanted a weak central government that gave more power to the states. James Madison tried to use the ideas from both "parties" and wrote the US Constitutuon.
Some states did not want to ratify the new US Constitution. They were afraid that a strong federal govenment would try to control people and take away their rights.
In 1789, James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights to "amend" (change) the US Constitution. The must guarantee the personal rights of all people living in the US. The states approved the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.
These amendments protect the basic rights of the people.
1st: Freedom of Speech, Press, Assembly, Religion, and the Right to Petition
2nd: Right to Bear Arms
3rd: Protection from Quartering Soldiers
4th: Protection from Search & Seizure
5th: Right to Fair Legal Treatment
6th: Right to a Lawyer
7th: Right to Trial by Jury
8th: Protection from Cruel Punishments
9th: People have more rights not listed in the Constitution
10th: State Rights
Originally, the Bill of Rights had 12 different amendments, but the first two were not passed by enough states.
The first "article" was about the number of a state's representatives in the House of Representatives. This "article" became a part of the US Constitution under Article I (Legislative Branch). In 1910, the number of representatives grew to 435 and in 1941, the Congress voted to limit the House to 435representatives.
The second "article" that was not approved was finally added to the Constitution in 1992. It is now the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, and deals with pay changes for the government.
Visit the Bill of Rights Institute: Constitution Dayfor further education and multimendia resources.
VOANEWS: American History Series: The Heart and Spirit of the Constitution On THE MAKING OF A NATION: When the Constitution was written, a majority of the states already had their own bills of rights. So some delegates questioned the need for a national one.
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