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    The Bill of Rights: A Brief History Essay

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    The Bill of Rights was a landmark in the history of the world. It was proposed in 1689and is a document that set out the conditions on which the British throne had been offered to William and Mary in 1688. The Bill of Rights mainly incorporated the Declaration of Rights and declared that the monarch must rule according to the law and with parliamentary consent. Members of the parliament were to be freely elected and guaranteed the freedom of speech. The Roman Catholic Stuart claim to the throne was terminated (Macmillan Encyclopaedia, 1999). This was of course a brief history of the actual place of origin of the Bill of Rights.

    In 1791 another document by the name of the Bill of Rights was proposed in the United States. It contains the first ten amendments of the Constitution of the country and is described by Jefferson as what people are entitled to against every government on earth. They are (1) the freedom of press, speech and religion; (2) the right to bear arms; (3) prohibition of the quartering of troops; (4) protection against unlawful search and seizure; (5) the right of due process of law; (6)the right to a fair and public trial; (7) the right to a trial by jury; (8)prohibition of cruel punishments (9) protection of non-enumerated rights and(10) reservation of powers i. e. powers not reserved for the federal government residue in the states (MacmillanEncyclopaedia, 1999).

    The Bill was basically formulated because during the debates of the adoption of the constitution, the opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. The memory of the revolution was still fresh in their minds i. e. the British had carried out the violation of civil rights and liberties before and during the revolution.

    Thus it was no surprise when a bill of rights was demanded by the opposition that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state constitutions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered (Bent David, James Madison proposes the Bill of rights to the House of Representatives, 1996). Therefore on 25 September 1789,the First Congress of the United States proposed twelve amendments to the Constitution to the state legislatures. These amendments included arguments that were most frequently put forth against the Constitution itself. The first two proposed amendments which concerned the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of the Congressmen were not ratified (Bent,1996).

    Articles three to twelve were however ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, constitute the first ten amendments of the constitution known as the Bill of Rights. As James Madison stated while drafting the Bill of Rights: I should be unwilling to see a door opened for a reconsideration of the whole structure of the government, for a reconsideration 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 (Bent, 1996). It is clear from the above excerpt that James Madison did not think that the Bill of Rights was that important a document and was only required to humiliate those who thought it was detrimental the country. However nothing could be further from the truth as it turned out that the Bill of Rights was indeed important in the safeguarding of civil rights and liberties that had previously been taken for granted.

    Thus later on when Madison in his speech said: I will state my reasons why I think it proper to propose amendments; and state the amendments themselves, so far asI think they ought to be proposed. If I thought I could fulfill the duty which I owe to myself and my constituents, to let the subject pass over in silence, I most certainly should not trespass upon the indulgence of this house. But I cannot do this; and am therefore compelled to beg a patient hearing to what I have to lay before you. And I do most sincerely believe that if congress will devote but one day to this subjects, so far as to satisfy the public that we do not disregard their wishes, it will have a salutary influence on the public councils, and prepare the way for a favorable reception of our future measures(Bent, 1996). .

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    The Bill of Rights: A Brief History Essay. (2019, Feb 18). Retrieved from

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