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Non inclusion in Original Constitution Explained

Non inclusion in Original Constitution Explained

Created in
1777, the Articles of Confederation was the first Constitution adopted by the
newly established United States of America. The original draft was written by a
committee appointed by the Continental Congress, and subsequently ratified by State
leaders. In addition to solidifying and legally establishing the United States,
the Articles of Confederation focused primarily on the distribution of powers
between Federal and State governments.

The first
constitution merged all states into one union, but enabled the individual
jurisdictions to retain sovereignty, as it pertained to governmental functions
not overseen by the Federal Government. After the initial construction, the
Articles of Confederation were then ratified over a four year period. The final
draft was adopted on March 1st, 1781, which officially appointed the governing
body of the United States of America.

Known as the
Congress of Confederation, the Federal Government established a distinct set of
powers: the Confederation could negotiate diplomatic agreements, create war,
and resolve issues in regards to western expansion. The articles were chosen
and voted on by representatives of the states. This is crucial in
acknowledging, because the original Constitution primarily focused on balancing
governmental power between Federal and State governments.

   
The Articles of Confederation did not pertain to
individual rights, nor did it acknowledge them. Arguments posed by Anti-Federalist
leaders were thwarted through rhetoric that revolved around an “unwritten
interpretation within the Constitution for individual rights.” In fact,
powerful Federalists such as Alexander Hamilton actually called for a revision
of the articles, claiming that they failed in creating a powerful central
government.

Under the Articles
the Government raised revenue through requests made to the states. Hamilton and
other Federalists wanted a central government that could properly enforce
levies as well as create a succinct law system. The efforts made by the Federalists
exemplify the notion that the individual was merely an afterthought; the
“necessary revisions” focused on empowering the Government and
further displacing the rights of the citizen. 

On September
17th, 1787 the Constitutional Convention gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
in response to discontent with the Articles of Confederation and the need for a
more active centralized government. State leaders, respected politicians,
lawmakers, and our Founding Fathers were all present during this Convention.
The process to ratify the Constitution was an open forum; opinions and open
debates were encouraged. This sociable gathering allowed all opinions,
viewpoints, and sentiments to be freely expressed.

   
During the Constitutional Convention, the feud
between Federalists and Anti-Federalists reached a climax. The meeting, which
focused on empowering the central government, quickly shifted towards
individual liberties. Questions pertaining to civil rights frequently emanated,
as Anti-Federalist leaders stated their case for an inclusion of civil rights.
George Mason, a prominent advocate for individual liberties stated, “I
wish the Constitution had been prefaced with a Bill of Rights.” The sentiments
expressed by leading Anti-Federalists were heard, but not tangibly met.

Leading
federalists, Alexander Hamilton and Roger Sherman, reiterated the goals of the
Convention: the meeting was held to discuss matters as they pertain to
separation of powers and strengthening the central government. Although the Anti-Federalist
movement was gaining momentum, the majority of State leaders expressed a
similar belief to Hamilton and Sherman.

  
The majority of those who influenced the drafting
of the first Constitution claimed that individual rights were implied and
protected through the creation of the three independent branches. Leaders of
the Federalist Party felt as though a concrete adoption of a Bill of Rights
was superfluous, for civil liberties were innately included into the
Constitution.

The argument
between the two parties essentially revolved around a definite Bill of Rights,
one which civilians could read themselves. Thomas Jefferson, a member of the Anti-Federalist
Party, felt as though ordinary individuals would not be able to interpret the
Constitution and its “innate inclusion of a bill of rights.” Although
the Convention did not include the Bill of Rights into the Constitution, the
opinions of respected Anti-Federalist members eventually proved influential, as
the Amendments were later adopted in 1792.  

History Bill Of Rights

History Bill Of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights, which consists the first 10 Amendments found in the Constitution, grants unequivocal civil liberties to the individual American. The Bill of Rights originated through sentiments that stood against dominating governments. The memories of a controlling government loomed large in the American consciousness. Through the levying of unfair and obscene taxes, American settlers were constantly oppressed by the autocratic British Monarchy. When the Revolutionary War was won and America gained independence from Britain, the need for an efficient Constitution became critical.
A governing doctrine was essential to fairly distribute power between the Federal Government, the State governments, and the individual American. Adopted in 1777, the Articles of Confederation was the first recognized Constitution, but failed to equally distribute power among the three entities. Although constantly ratified throughout the subsequent five years, the Articles of Confederation did not include any civil liberties for the individual American.
  
The Federalist Party led by Alexander Hamilton was keen on adopting a Constitution that focused primarily on a sturdy Federal Government. Hamilton and other members of the Federalist Party sought to create a powerful governing body to properly function and administer taxes, laws, and policy. The original framers of the Constitution were focused on creating a healthy and powerful machine, as opposed to offering civil liberties to the individuals which encompassed the machine. The adopted Constitution was filled with irony. Americans just won independence from a country which was viewed as possessing too powerful of a government.
   
The original Constitution included only a few specific individual liberties: laws that prohibit both Federal and State governments from punishing citizens for ex post facto violations (laws that are violated that were not considered criminal at the time), protection against states from impairing contracts, and legislative determinations of punishment for criminal actions.
Although these rights were limited, James Madison, the author of the United States Bill of Rights, felt as though the true liberties were administered through the separation of powers between Federal and State governments. Even though, the Articles of Confederation offered rights that seemed substantial to James Madison and other Anti-Federalist advocates, momentum was still gaining in regards to the adoption of undeniable individual rights.
   
Along with the Anti-Federalist Party, the exclusion of individual rights also created a stir among the working class and poor citizens of America. Revolts such as Shay’s Rebellion put pressure on State leaders to observe the voice of the people and deliberate in regards to an inclusion of individual rights in the Constitution.
When the Articles of Confederation were first adopted, State leaders and legislators would hold ratification meetings to field any ideas or suggestions to amend the framework. On September 12th, 1787, Charles Pickney, a delegate, and a leader of the Anti-Federalist Party, proposed several individual rights to the committee including: liberty of the press and a ban on accommodating soldiers in private homes. Although the proposal was rejected, the matter habitually came up and created inertia for the Anti-Federalist Party.
   
As proposals for a United States Bill of Rights continued to be rejected, James Madison grew increasingly motivated to offer a proposal himself. During the fall of 1788, Madison let his desires be heard, as he continually raised the issue of an impending proposal. Madison believed that a United States Bill of Rights would be educational; it would be a vehicle used to rally Americans together to fight a future oppressive government and instill patriotism for a country that offered such liberties.
   
When the first Congressional meeting took place in 1789, Virginia Congressman James Madison officially proposed a version of the United States Bill of Rights. The original proposal included twelve Amendments, some of which were immediately rejected, others of which were subsequently modified. Along with his draft of the United States Bill of Rights, Madison gave a calculated speech that answered questions posed by skeptics.
The opposing Federalist Party viewed the United States Bill of Rights as redundant, for liberties were inherent in the original Constitution. Madison, however, scoffed at this viewpoint and repeatedly stated that the rights of the individual are the driving force for a free nation.
   
The original United States Bill of Rights was a derivative based off of individual State Constitutions. Madison constructed Virginia’s Constitution, which offered numerous individual rights to its citizens. The proposal eventually gained the 3/4 necessary vote for adoption on December 12th, 1791. The Amendments were viewed as a compromise; the United States Bill of Rights offered the individual unquestioned liberties, while establishing the Federal Government as the powerful overseer to such rights.

The United States Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights, which is the first 10 Amendments found in the Constitution, grants unequivocal civil liberties to the individual American. The Bill of Rights originated through sentiments that stood against dominating governments. The memories of a controlling government loomed large in the American consciousness. Through the levying of unfair and obscene taxes, American settlers were constantly oppressed by the autocratic British Monarchy.
When the Revolutionary War was won and America gained independence from Britain, the need for an efficient Constitution became critical. A governing doctrine was essential to fairly distribute power between the Federal Government, the State governments, and the individual American.
Adopted in 1777, the Articles of Confederation was the first recognized Constitution, but failed to equally distribute power among the three entities. Although constantly ratified throughout the subsequent five years, the Articles of Confederation did not include any civil liberties for the individual American.
   
The Federalist Party, led by Alexander Hamilton, was keen on adopting a Constitution that focused primarily on a sturdy Federal Government. Hamilton and other members of the Federalist Party sought to create a powerful governing body to properly function and administer taxes, laws, and policy. The original framers of the Constitution were focused on creating a healthy and powerful machine, as opposed to offering civil liberties to the individuals that encompass the machine. The adopted Constitution was filled with irony-Americans just won independence from a country which was viewed as possessing too powerful of a government. 
    
The original Constitution included only a few specific individual liberties: laws that prohibit both Federal and State governments from punishing citizens for ex post facto violations (laws that are violated that were not considered criminal at the time), protection against states from impairing contracts, and legislative determinations of punishment for criminal actions. Although these rights were limited, James Madison, the author of the United States Bill of Rights, felt as though the true liberties were administered through the separation of powers between the Federal and State governments. Even though, the Articles of Confederation offered rights that seemed substantial to James Madison and other anti-Federalist advocates, momentum was still gaining in regards to the adoption of undeniable individual rights.
    
Along with the Anti-Federalist Party, the exclusion of individual rights also created a stir among the working class and poor citizens of America. Revolts such as Shay’s Rebellion put pressure on State leaders to observe the voice of the people and deliberate in regards to an inclusion of individual rights in the Constitution.
When the Articles of Confederation was first adopted, State leaders and legislators would hold ratification meetings to field any ideas or suggestions to amend the framework. On September 12th, 1787 Charles Pickney, a delegate, and a leader of the Anti-Federalist Party, proposed several individual rights to the committee including: liberty of the press and a ban on accommodating soldiers in private homes. Although the proposal was rejected, the matter habitually came up and created inertia for the Anti-Federalist Party.
    
As proposals for a United States Bill of Rights continued to be rejected, James Madison grew increasingly motivated to offer a proposal himself. During the fall of 1788, Madison let his desires be heard, as he continually raised the issue of an impending proposal. Madison believed that a United States Bill of Rights would be educational. It would be a vehicle used to rally Americans together to fight a future oppressive government and instill patriotism for a country that offered such liberties.
    
When the first Congressional meeting met in 1789, Virginia Congressman James Madison officially proposed a version of the United States Bill of Rights. The original proposal included twelve Amendments, some of which were immediately rejected, others which were subsequently modified. Along with his draft of the United States Bill of Rights, Madison gave a calculated speech that answered questions posed by skeptics.
The opposing Federalist Party viewed the United States Bill of Rights as redundant, for liberties were inherent in the original Constitution. Madison, however, scoffed at this viewpoint and repeatedly stated that the rights of the individual are the driving force for a free nation.
    
The original United States Bill of Rights was a derivative based off of individual States’ Constitutions. Madison constructed Virginia’s Constitution, which offered numerous individual rights to its citizens. The proposal eventually gained the 3/4 necessary vote for adoption on December 12th, 1791. The Amendments were viewed as a compromise. The United States Bill of Rights offered the individual unquestioned liberties, while establishing the Federal Government as the powerful overseer to such rights.

The English Bill of Rights and United States Bill of Rights

The English Bill of Rights and United States Bill of Rights

When America
was under British control, colonials often mistrusted or felt abused by overbearing
governments. Settlers were commonly imprisoned for failing to pay debts created
through unjust tax burdens. The citizens of America were teetering on the brink
of revolution from autocracy’s mistreatment.

When America
won its Revolution in 1776 the need for an established Federal Government was
paramount. Federalist leaders such as Alexander Hamilton yearned for a
governing body that was powerful enough to impose an effective system of laws,
taxes, and policy. The original Constitution established America as a sovereign
nation and awarded unanimous power to the Federal Government and the individual
State.

The first
draft of the Constitution (known as the Articles of Confederation drafted in
1787) created a unique system of checks and balances that separated powers
between an executive branch, a representative legislature, and a Federal
judiciary system. Initially thought to be fair and balanced, the Constitution
was severely flawed due to the exclusion of individual rights.

    
Fearful of a British replicate, the anti-Federalist
party, led by James Madison, George Mason, and Patrick Henry, attempted to
amend the Constitution with an inclusion of individual rights. Although a firm
supporter of individual freedoms, James Madison did not feel obligated to
include such amendments in the initial Constitution. Madison’s original
sentiment expressed a need for an established government and claimed that
individual rights were included in the original amendments.

Although
Madison was a member of the anti-Federalist party, he was not originally
engaged in a concerted effort for the proposal of such amendments. The initial
spark for an individualistic movement was created during the ratification
process of the first Constitution.

When the
Articles of Confederation were adopted the leaders of individual states would
routinely meet at an assembly hall to express views or offer ideas on how to
improve the Constitution. During these ratification meetings (congressional
hearings) many State leaders and anti-Federalist members called for an
inclusion of a series of individual liberties. The leaders of these movements,
most notably Patrick Henry and George Mason, attempted to sway leaders of the
states to pass a Bill of Rights, which specifically administered freedoms to the
individual citizen. Their efforts were futile in terms of a vote (9 out of 13
votes were required for ratification), but not in regards to influence.

James Madison
observed the fervor which these men possessed towards individual freedoms and
soon became active himself. Madison quickly realized that it was his obligation
to lead the movement for the Bill of Rights. Without his involvement, Madison
believed that the United States Government would have never extended such
rights to the individual. Without individual rights, the American Government
would inevitably become a duplicate of the British Empire. 

    
James Madison won election to the House of
Representatives and immediately fulfilled his pledge to draft a set of civil
liberties to the Constitution. On June 8th, 1789, Madison officially revealed
his Bill of Rights proposal and gave a calculated speech in front of Congress.
The speech aimed to answer any doubts or questions raised by the Federalist Party.

The proposal
itself was derived from several State Constitutions and ratifying conventions.
Madison used his own State’s (Virginia) Constitution, published by George
Mason, as a general framework.

The Bill of Rights
contained 413 words and originally detailed twelve undeniable rights to the
individual. The ratification process whittled the Bill of Rights to 8 Amendments
and then eventually 12. On December 15th, 1791, the Bill of Rights was
officially adopted into the United States Constitution. James Madison published
the Amendments and successfully orated for the inclusion of them in the
Constitution. However, without the efforts of George Mason and Patrick Henry,
Madison’s limited motivation may have impeded such feats from being
accomplished. 


The Bill of Rights Amendments

The Bill of Rights Amendments

Although created over 200 years ago, the Bill of Rights is still incorporated into America’s legal system. Barron vs. Baltimore, a Supreme Court case from 1833 established a precedent that the Bill of Rights can only apply to the Federal Government. In the years following, other cases such as United States v. Cruikshank maintained the precedent established in 1833 and held that the First and Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution did not apply to State or local governments. 
Beginning in the early 1890s, however, the sentiments of the Supreme Court shifted. Numerous decisions involving cases that reflected Constitutional rights were interpreted through the 14th Amendment. Through the Due Process Clause established in the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights is susceptible to inclusion against State governments.
Due process is a principle outlined in the 14th Amendment that forces the Federal Government to respect all legal rights awarded to an individual according to U.S. law. The Supreme Court has interpreted this Amendment as a direct extension of the Bill of Rights (and the entire Constitution) to all levels of Government. Although some of the Amendments outlined in the American Constitution are archaic, Due Process enables most of them to extend to all matters of the law.
    
The 1925 case of Gitlow vs. New York is regarded as the official genesis in regards to the incorporation of the Bill of Rights into State Constitutional law. During this case, Gitlow, an American citizen and member of the Socialist Party, was accused of criminal anarchy for his role in the publication of the “Left Wing Manifesto.” The State court upheld the conviction citing clear and present danger as its justification, but the Supreme Court overturned the decision ruling that the First Amendment protected Gitlow’s free speech and freedom of press rights. This case established perhaps the most important Amendment (freedom of speech) into everyday life. 
    
The following list will detail the Bill of Rights, how it pertains to Constitutional law, and various court cases which solidified its place in everyday society.
1st Amendment-Guarantees the establishment and free practice of religion, along with freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.
●  Establishment of religion became introduced through the decision in Everson vs. Board of Education. In 1947, using the American Constitution as his justification, a New Jersey citizen and taxpayer fought against a State law that authorized payments to school boards as a form of reimbursement for transportation costs. Of the schools who benefited, more than 96% were found to be private parochial Catholic Schools. Everson successfully argued that New Jersey violated the First Amendment by unfairly excluding other non-Catholic schools from receiving State funding.
●  Freedom of speech is offered to all citizens and enables Americans to express themselves without censorship or limitation. Established by the previously mentioned Gitlow vs New York, freedom of speech will be upheld in all Constitutional law cases.
●  Free practice of religion was established in the 1940 Supreme Court case of Cantwell vs. Connecticut. Newton Cantwell, a Jehovah’s Witness, was attempting to espouse his religious beliefs in a highly Roman Catholic neighborhood in Connecticut. Cantwell and his two sons were going door to door with pamphlets and books attempting to convert the citizens of the community. Cantwell and his two sons were arrested and charged with illegal solicitation and a breach of the peace. The Court administering the case ruled that Cantwell was not in violation of any wrongdoing for he was under protection of the 1st and 14th Amendments.
2nd Amendment
The right to bear arms is arguably the most controversial Amendment in the American Constitution. Under Constitutional law, the interpretation has varied from an individual right to an archaic liberty that only benefits militias.
3rd Amendment
Freedom from quartering soldiers is not that relevant by today’s standards and has not been incorporated with State Constitutional law.
4th Amendment
Protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure. The 4th Amendment in the American constitution also requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant or possess unreasonable doubt before entering an individual’s private property.
5th Amendment
Offers an individual the right to indictment by a grand jury; protects an individual from double jeopardy, self-incrimination, and the taking of private property without just compensation. 

6th Amendment
This Amendment is present in all trials or court cases in America. The 6th Amendment in the American Constitution guarantees an individual the right to a fair, speedy, and public trial. The 6th Amendment also enables an individual to have legal assistance, regardless of the charge, and the right to confront adverse witnesses and notice of accusations. These rights are given to all men or women under trial for any sort of wrongdoing. They establish the “innocent until proven guilty” mantra that is present in the United States legal system. 
7th Amendment
Offers individuals the right to a jury trial during civil court cases. 
8th Amendment
Protects individuals from the Government imposing excessive bail and excessive fines during pending trials. The 8th Amendment in the American Constitution also protects individuals from cruel and unusual punishment for acts committed. Under this Amendment American citizens are free from torture, humiliating punishments, or punishments which degrade a human being.
9th Amendment and 10th Amendment
Due to their broadness and repetitive nature, these particular Amendments do not necessarily apply to Constitutional law.

An Easy Guide to the Bill of Rights for Kids

An Easy Guide to the Bill of Rights for Kids

The Bill of Rights, or first ten Amendments of the Constitution,
are the undeniable rights awarded to American citizens. Published over 200
years ago, these rights still hold incredible significance as it pertains to
present day society.

 

When they were first introduced, the Bill of Rights only extended
to matters overseen by the Federal Government. Trials or instances where the
rights were in question did not associate with State governments until the
early 1890s. Using the 14th Amendment as its platform, the United States
extended the reach of the Bill of Rights to State governments through the
incorporation doctrine. 

The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution provided American citizens
with a broad definition of their undeniable rights. The Due Process Clause,
perhaps the Amendment’s most important subsection, recognizes a series of
substantive due process rights including: parental, marriage, and procedural
rights. The Due Process Clause enabled State governments to recognize the
liberties offered in the Bill of Rights to individuals. It simply forced the Government
to respect all legal rights established in the Constitution. 

Prior to adoption and subsequent ratification of the 14th Amendment, the
Supreme Court consistently held that the Bill of Rights applied specifically to
the Federal Government. Inclusion into State law arose in the early 1890s when
a series of Supreme Court questioned the credibility of the first 10 Amendments
on a State level. 
   
The two most notable Supreme Court cases which sparked the genesis of the
incorporation doctrine were Chicago, Burlington and Quincy
Railroad v. City of Chicago
 (1897) and Gitlow vs. New York (1925). In each of these
cases, the Supreme Court ruled that the individual State governments were bound
to uphold the particular civil liberties awarded in the Constitution.

 

In the Quincy Railroad case
the Supreme Court ruled that some form of just compensation is required for
property appropriated by State or local governments. This particular ruling
upheld and extended the rights detailed in the 5th Amendment to Quincy as they
pertained to State governments. 
    
The 1925 Supreme Court case of Gitlow vs New York
is perhaps the most notable inclusion of the Bill of Rights into State law.
Benjamin Gitlow was an American socialist who was convicted of criminal anarchy
for his role in the production of a Communist publication-“The Left Wing
Manifesto.” The courts claimed that Gitlow was attempting to augment a
violent overthrow of the Government through his publication and teachings.
Although the New York court found him guilty, the Supreme Court upheld Gitlow’s
rights to free speech and free press and later freed him of charges. The Court stated
in its decision, “for present purposes, we may assume that freedom of
speech and of press…are among the fundamental personal rights and liberties
protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment
by the State.” The Supreme Court’s ruling was a fundamental starting point
for the Bill of Rights to be observed and respected by State law. 
    
Rulings such as Burlington and Quincy Railroad v. City of
Chicago
 (1897), and Gitlow vs. New York (1925)
have cemented the inclusion of the Bill of Rights into State law. However,
there are a few Amendments, due to their broadness, ambiguity, or archaic
nature, which have not been incorporated into State governments. Below is a
listing of the Amendments found in the Bill of Rights and their status in
regards to State law. 

1st Amendment




● Establishment of religion-incorporated 

● Free exercise of religion-incorporated

● Freedom of speech-incorporated

● Freedom of the press-incorporated

● Freedom of assembly-incorporated


2nd Amendment-The right to bear arms is not incorporated against the states.

3rd Amendment
-Freedom of quartering soldiers is not incorporated against the states.

4th Amendment



● Protection against unreasonable search and seizure-incorporated

● Various requirements for warrants-incorporated

● Judgments pertaining to unreasonable acquisitions of warrants-incorporated


5th Amendment



● Right to indictment by a grand jury has not been incorporated-the majority of state
constitutions have previously upheld this right.

● Protection against double jeopardy-incorporated

● Protection against self-incrimination-incorporated


6th Amendment



● Right to a speedy trial-incorporated

● Right to a public trial-incorporated

● Right to trial by impartial jury-incorporated

● Right to notice of accusations-incorporated

● Right to confront adverse witnesses-incorporated

● Right to assistance of counsel-incorporated


7th Amendment-The right to a jury trial in civil cases
is not incorporated against the states.

8th Amendment




● Protections against “excessive” bail or
“excessive” fines have not been incorporated against the states.

● Protection against cruel and unusual punishment-incorporated


9th Amendment-Rights of the people that are not
specifically detailed in the Constitution are not incorporated against
the states.

10th Amendment-Powers not granted to the national Government
and reserved to the states and the people-incorporated.

The American Bill of Rights

The American Bill of Rights

Known as the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution were officially ratified in 1791. The Bill of Rights offered American citizens undeniable rights, essential for maintaining a free country. The liberties offered in the Constitution ensured Americans that the central government would not abuse its power through tyranny or unjust actions. The Bill of Rights also offered the ability to express opinion and thought freely without the fear of Government persecution. 

Written by James Madison, the first 10 Amendments in the United States Constitution were originally met with skepticism. Led by Alexander Hamilton, the anti-Federalist party believed that the inclusion of individual rights into the Constitution was redundant and frivolous.

The Bill of Rights was adopted 3 years from the original drafting of the United States Constitution. Considering the historical implications, the process to include the Bill of Rights into the Constitution was fairly quick. However, the influences upon which it was built stem back centuries prior. 
    
After the United States won the Revolutionary War and subsequently earned its freedom, the adoption of a Constitution was necessary for establishment purposes. The Revolution was spawned through injustice enforced by the controlling British Government. American settlers grew embittered from constant taxes and wrongful convictions.

Although the Bill of Rights was created to free Americans from a powerful central government, its influences, ironically, stem from British doctrines and literature. The following are three substantial precursors which influenced the adoption of the Bill of Rights into the United States Constitution:

The Magna Carta (1215)

In 1215, tired of immoral taxing and arbitrary actions committed by the King, a group of English noblemen forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. The legendary doctrine guaranteed common citizens such fundamental rights as: the government must be fair and reasonable with their actions; individuals are guaranteed a trial by jury and due process of law.

The basic rights offered in the Magna Carta originally were awarded solely to noblemen. However, the rights were eventually extended to all people of society. The Magna Carta diminished a Monarch's absolute power and enabled all citizens basic rights which impede tyrannous actions.

The Magna Carta is still recognized as an initial breakthrough for common citizens in regards to limiting governmental powers. Like all civil codes, the United States Constitution used the Magna Carta as a foundation upon which to build. 

Petition of Right (1628)

Although the Magna Carta officially limited the powers of the Monarchy, it was often by the King and his unjust policies. As citizens grew furious over the Monarchy, the Parliament, or English legislature grew in influence. Parliament eventually refused the approval of more taxes issued by King Charles I and forced him to sign the Petition of Right which prohibited the government from unlawfully arresting people and housing troops in private homes without consent from the owner. This petition clearly influenced the Third Amendment (prohibited soldiers from quartering on an individual's private property) and Fifth Amendment to the United States constitution. 

Bill of Rights (1689)

This document guaranteed all British subjects the right to bear arms and petition the King. This British version of the Bill of Rights also protected citizens from excessive bails, fines, and cruel and unusual punishment. The British version protected far less rights than the American Bill of Rights. However, the United States Constitution clearly adopted provisions (protections against excessive fines, punishments, and bails) found in the 8th Amendment, as well as a direct adoption of the 2nd Amendment (right to bear arms.)

Amendments and provisions of the Bill of Rights were undoubtedly adopted through British doctrine. However, a slew of domestic individual liberties existed before the ratification of the United States Constitution. Before the creation of the English Bill of Rights, many colonies recognized individual liberties through their own constitutions. For instance, in 1636, Rhode Island established itself as the first colony to recognize freedom of consciousness. In 1641, Massachusetts created the Massachusetts Body of Liberties which detailed a list of protected rights for the individual colonist. In 149, Maryland extended the right to practice any religion.

Perhaps the greatest influence for the creation of the Bill of Rights can be found in The Virginia Declaration of Rights. Created by the author of the Bill of Rights himself, James Madison, the Virginia Declaration of Rights was published on June 12th, 1776. The Virginia Declaration offered 16 individual rights to its citizens, many of which were repeated in the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. 

The United States Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights

Created in 1777, the Articles of Confederation was the first Constitution adopted by the newly established United States of America. The original draft was written by a committee appointed by the Continental Congress, and subsequently ratified by state leaders. In addition to solidifying and legally establishing the United States, the Articles of Confederation focused primarily on the distribution of powers between the Federal and State Governments.
The first Constitution merged all states into one union, but enabled the individual jurisdictions to retain sovereignty as it pertained to governmental functions not overseen by the Federal Government. After the initial construction, the Articles of Confederation were then ratified over a four year period. The final draft was adopted on March 1st, 1781, which officially appointed the governing body of the United States of America. 
Known as the Congress of Confederation, the Federal Government established a distinct set of powers: the Confederation could negotiate diplomatic agreements, create war, and resolve issues in regards to western expansion. The Articles were chosen and voted on by representatives of the state. This is crucial in acknowledging, because the original Constitution primarily focused on balancing governmental power between the Federal and State Governments.
The Articles of Confederation did not pertain to individual rights nor even acknowledge them. Arguments posed by anti-Federalist leaders were thwarted through rhetoric that revolved around an “unwritten interpretation within the Constitution for individual rights”. In fact, powerful Federalists such as Alexander Hamilton actually called for a revision of the Articles, claiming that they failed in creating a powerful central government.
Under the Articles, the Government raised revenue through requests made to states; Hamilton and other Federalists wanted a central government that could properly enforce levies as well as create a succinct law system. The efforts made by the Federalists exemplify the notion that the individual was merely an afterthought. The “necessary revisions” focused on empowering the Government and further displacing the rights of the citizen.  
In Philadelphia, PA, on September 17th, 1787, the Constitutional Convention gathered in response to discontent with the Articles of Confederation and the need for a more active centralized government. State leaders, respected politicians, lawmakers, and our Founding Fathers were all present during this Convention.
The process to ratify the Constitution was an open forum; opinions and open debates were encouraged. This sociable gathering allowed all opinions, viewpoints, and sentiments to be freely expressed. 
During the Constitutional Convention the feud between Federalists and anti-Federalists reached a climax. The meeting, which focused on empowering the central Government, quickly shifted towards individual liberties. Questions pertaining to civil rights frequently emanated, as anti-Federalist leaders stated their case for an inclusion of civil rights. George Mason, a prominent advocate for individual liberties stated, “I wish the Constitution had been prefaced with a Bill of Rights”.
The sentiments expressed by leading anti-Federalists were heard, but not tangibly met. Leading Federalists, Alexander Hamilton and Roger Sherman reiterated the goals of the Convention. The meeting was held to discuss matters as they pertain to separation of powers and strengthening the central Government. Although the anti-Federalist movement was gaining momentum, the majority of state leaders expressed a similar belief to Hamilton and Sherman. 
The majority of those who influenced the drafting of the first Constitution claimed that individual rights were implied and protected through the creation of the three independent branches. Leaders of the Federalist Party felt as though a concrete adoption of a Bill of Rights was superfluous, for civil liberties were innately included into the Constitution.
The argument between the two parties essentially revolved around a definite Bill of Rights, one which civilians can read themselves. Thomas Jefferson, a member of the anti-Federalist Party felt as though ordinary individuals would not be able to interpret the Constitution and its “innate inclusion of a Bill of Rights”. Although the Convention did not include the Bill of Rights into the Constitution, the opinions of respected anti-Federalist members eventually proved influential, as the Amendments were later adopted in 1792.   

What are the Bill of Rights?

What are the Bill of Rights?

Ratified in 1791, the Bill of
Rights contains the first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution. The
Bill of Rights was the first national doctrine in American history to
specifically designate liberties or freedoms to individual citizens.

When the original
Constitution was drafted in 1777, the focus of the drafters was to further
empower the role of the central Government. Leading Federalist Party members
such as Alexander Hamilton routinely attempted to strengthen the role of the
Government to fortify the levying of taxes and the construction of a firm legal
code. As a result of these repeated attempts to further authorize the Federal
Government, a sentiment administered by the Anti-Federalist Party was gaining
in momentum.

Before America won the
Revolutionary War, the authoritarian monarchy of Britain routinely enforced
unfair taxes and punishments on colonialists. Tired of mistreatment, American
settlers strongly believed that a powerful central Government would lead to
tyranny and a subsequent civilian uprising. Although the adoption of the Bill
of Rights into the Constitution took almost 15 years, influences such
as Shay’s Rebellion and prior State Constitutions paved the
groundwork for the inclusion of individual liberties.

Led by James Madison, George
Mason, and Thomas Jefferson, the Anti-Federalist Party successfully
constructed the Bill of Rights in 1789. The first 10 Amendments include a wide
array of civil liberties such as: freedom of speech, freedom of
religion, the right to a fair, speedy, and public trial, the right to bear
arms, and protection from excessive bails, fines, and punishments. 


The Idea of the Rights:

The Bill of Rights, which
was implemented into the U.S. Constitution in 1791, acted as a bridge
between the Federalist Party and Anti-Federalist Party. The Bill of Rights was
the ultimate compromise between the two parties. The first 10 Amendments, which
guarantee a series of freedoms for the American citizen, unequivocally
satisfied the Anti-Federalist Party and their desire for individual
inclusion in the Constitution.

In addition to individual
freedoms, the Federalist Party viewed the inclusion as sufficient because the
central Government retained significant power. The Bill of Rights sufficiently
acted as a check to the central Government while distributing delegating powers
to both Federal and State governments. The premise of the first 10
Amendments revolves around individual liberties and sustaining rights to
the citizen to thwart an autocratic government.  


Prime Movers and Creators:

The members of the Anti-Federalist
Party are credited with the creation and subsequent adoption of the
Bill of Rights. George Mason, Patrick Henry, and James Madison were the leaders
of the Anti-Federalist Party and the chief influences for the creation of the
first 10 Amendments.

When the Articles of
Confederation (first draft of the United States Constitution) were
adopted, the provisions within primarily revolved around the powers of the
central Government. Individual freedoms or liberties were not
mentioned in the original Constitution, yet instead were thought to be
interpreted through the separation of powers. George Mason and Patrick Henry
routinely argued for the inclusion of such rights, claiming that tyranny would
arise without a direct inclusion of individual rights in the Constitution.

 

During Congressional hearings
(ratification meetings), the Federalist Party would make their sentiments heard
through constant rhetoric that revolved around the inclusion of individual
liberties. Mason and Henry routinely mentioned the irony of a strong central
Government and the mistreatment it displaced on settlers prior to the
Revolutionary War. After much debate and inertia, James Madison authored the
Bill of Rights in June of 1789. 

Who Wrote the Bill of Rights:

The Bill of Rights originated
through sentiments which opposed dominating central governments. After America
won its freedom from Britain in 1776, the need for a governing doctrine became
essential. The original Constitution was drafted in 1777 and focused primarily
on the distribution of powers between the Federal and State governments.
Leaders of the Constitution were concerned with creating a functional
government to properly levy taxes and offer society a suitable legal system.

The years following the initial
adoption were filled with fervent debate. Many working class settlers believed
that the Constitution would spawn a government similar to Britain’s monarchy.
The majority of individuals who fought against Britain during the Revolutionary
War believed that they were fighting for their individual freedom. They were
tired of being mistreated and forced to pay excessive taxes or fines to the
British Government. The countless individuals who foresaw a similar government
to that of the monarch expressed their discomfort through revolts (Shay’s Rebellion)
and discussions raised at Congressional meetings or assembly halls.

The desires of the individual
and the Anti-Federalist Party became tangible in 1789 when the Bill of Rights
was officially produced. The original Bill contained 12 Amendments and was
later ratified to 8. After another ratification process the Bill of Rights was
increased to 10 Amendments. The first 10 Amendments was a derivative of State
constitutions, French ideas, and British doctrines. The proposal of the
first 10 Amendments was officially adopted through the necessary 3/4
state vote on December 12th, 1791.

Creation:

Although not officially adopted
until 1791, the doctrines and previous Constitutions
which influenced the Bill of Rights date back centuries prior. The
first 10 Amendments in the United States Constitution guarantee an individual
citizen undeniable rights and liberties. The freedoms and various protections
offered in the Bill of Rights were spawned through centuries of similar
documents. Ironically, some of the greatest influences which sparked the
creation of the first 10 Amendments were famous British documents.

The Magna Carta for instance,
created in 1215, was one of the first fundamental doctrines that limited the
powers of the controlling government. Like the Petition of Right (1628), the
Magna Carta limited the powers and unjust policies of the controlling Monarch.
The British Bill of Rights (1689) was another prime influence on the United
States version. The Monarch was further limited through the British Bill of Rights
and the adoption of similar principles found in the 2nd, 6th, and 8th Amendments.

Although the British influence
in the Bill of Rights is unquestioned, a series of domestic Constitutions also
laid the groundwork for the inclusion of the Bill of Rights into
the United States Constitution. Before the ratification of the first 10 Amendments, individual
states possessed their own Constitutions, many of which already offered
civil liberties outlined in the reformed Constitution. 

Non-inclusion in Original
Constitution: 

Created just a year following
the Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation acted as the
first Constitution for the United States of America. The original draft was
written by an appointed staff and subsequently ratified by State leaders. The
original Constitution attempted to establish the United States as a sovereign
nation with a developed legal and tax system. The Articles of Confederation
unified all states in the union into one governing body but maintained a
unique separation of powers between jurisdictions.

When the United States first
gained freedom, the necessary provisions within the Constitution revolved
around western expansion and a fully functional central government. There was
no mention of individual freedoms or liberties within the original context. The
issue pertaining to individual powers was routinely shot down. The
makers of the Articles of Confederation believed that individual rights were
implied through the separation of powers and the role of the State governments.
Through Congressional meetings, the Constitution was ratified numerous times.
Eventually the Bill of Rights was adopted as the Anti-Federalist sentiment
reached the majority of the population. 


Importance in American Jurisprudence:

The Bill of Rights is perhaps
the most substantial document ever created in American history. Although
published over 200 years ago, the majority of freedoms awarded in the first 10 Amendments
of the United States Constitution are still pertinent to this day. Through
the creation of the Bill of Rights, American citizens are able to
express their individuality through the liberties and freedoms outlined in the
United States Constitution.

The liberties detailed in the
first 10 Amendments guarantee an individual the right to a fair, speedy, and
public trial along with protection against cruel and unusual punishment,
excessive bails or fines. The liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights also
prohibit law enforcement agencies from improper search and seizure of personal
property or assets.

Many of the Amendments are
crucial in the development of American society. The First Amendment, for
instance, is arguably the foundation for free thought and expression.
The right to free speech, religion, and press is something that has
distinguished America as a unique society which encourages expression and free
thought.

State Inclusion: 

Published over 200 years
ago, the Bill of Rights was initially governed solely by Federal
law. Trials or legal matters that questioned an individual’s Constitutional
rights did not extend to State governments until the early 1890s. Supreme Court
precedents eventually included the Bill of Rights into State law through the
inclusion of the 14th Amendment and its Due Process Clause. The 14th Amendment
and the Due Process Clause eventually enabled State governments to recognize
the liberties or rights offered in the Bill of Rights.

The two Supreme Court cases
which solidified the inclusion of the Bill of Rights into State governments
were: Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad v. City of Chicago (1897)
and Gitlow vs. New York (1925.) These two rulings officially
cemented the Bill of Rights into State law. Although the majority of individual
liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights are respected at a State level, there
are a few Amendments and subsequent provisions that have failed to reach local
governments.

English Bill of Rights

English Bill of Rights

In generic
terms, it can be said that the English Bill of Rights is the basis from which
the United States Bill of Rights was derived. Even though the English Bill of
Rights is inherently different from the American Bill of Rights, there are
certain similarities. However, the similarities themselves are constructed in
different ways.

For example,
there are various English Bill of Rights articles that are addressed in one
singular amendment in the United States Bill of Rights. The reason for this is
that when the United State Constitution was being drafted, one of the main
goals was to simplify the wording of each amendment so as to allow for a more
clear and concise explanation and interpretation of the legislation. However,
the similarities between the English Bill of Rights and the United States Bill
of Rights are quite apparent.
 

For more information on the English Bill of
Rights, visit
 constitution.laws.com. 

States Rights

Right to Privacy

John Witherspoon

James Wilson

Elbridge Gerry

John Dickinson