The Origins and Anniversary of our Bill of Rights
Contrary to what some seem to think or believe today, the Bill of Rights is not a Bill of Needs.
On September 17, 1787 our Founding Fathers created the Constitution of the United States. It then had to go through a ratification, or approval, process in each state. Nine states were required to approve the document for it to become official for the country. In the end, all of them did.
However, there was a slight problem.
The Constitution, as written, laid out the foundations for the federal government fairly well but there were no guarantees, nor even a mention, of state or individual rights, that for which they all fought during the American Revolution.
In contrast, the previous semi-governing document, the Articles of Confederation (the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union), which was ratified on March 1, 1781, at least contained language to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the states.
Led by people such as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams and George Mason, the Anti-Federalists (as they came to be know) believed that the Constitution needed a Bill of Rights; that it created a presidency so powerful it might be turned into a tyrannical monarchy; that the document did not do enough with the courts with the result being an out-of-control judiciary; and, that the federal government would be unresponsive to the needs of the states and the people.
A war of words ensued.
The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, wished to leave the Constitution alone. They did not feel that any type of Bill of Rights was needed.
Madison wrote, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
However, they were not spelled out nor guaranteed in any way, thus leaving open the possibility for their encroachment.
Written guarantees won out. On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified.
What exactly was the purpose of these 10 amendments?
The Bill of Rights added specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights.
It does NOT grant us those rights.
It guarantees them.
If you recall, from the Declaration of Independence, our Founders believed in our unalienable rights, not man- or government-granted, but given to us by our Creator.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Bill of Rights also defined, more clearly, limitations on government power in judicial and other proceedings. And, one other huge point, that all powers not specifically delegated to Congress are reserved for the states or the people.
Today, let us thank our Founding Fathers for the foresight and wisdom they had in providing these documents but also pray that those elected representatives who took an Oath to support and defend the Constitution start doing so. In all areas and at all times. Not just when it is convenient for their political agenda.
But, also keep in mind that we have lost some rights. Some have been, otherwise limited.
It is up to each and every one of us to demand that our elected representatives are reminded of this truth, as written by Thomas Jefferson:
“Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us.”
Ensure that you and your family know your rights. Only then can you protect them.
There are many paths to educate yourself and your family. Learn the basics by watching the award-winning In Search of Liberty Constitution movie, and then, for in-depth study, enroll in a Constitution Boot Camp from Building Blocks for Liberty or join KrisAnne Hall's Liberty First University.
Staying true to our US Constitution we can safeguard freedom in America for ourselves and our posterity.
by Scott D. Welch, Patriot
Direct descendant of four Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War
Cousin of Patrick Henry
Click for a printable copy of the Bill of Rights.