Bill Of Right Research Paper

During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the document would open the way to tyranny by the strong central government.They demanded a “bill of rights” that would specify the rights of individual citizens.

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The arguments over the Bill of Rights were sometimes bitter, beginning with whether the federal government should protect individual rights at all.

The framers considered opening the Constitution with a list of natural rights, following the lead of most of the state constitutions, but decided against it.

The document they sent to the states for ratification in 1787 had little to say on the subject.

That surprised John Adams, then in England, who wrote to Thomas Jefferson, then in Paris, “What think you of a Declaration of Rights? ” Jefferson agreed: he found much to like about the new plan for a federal government, but he objected to “the omission of a bill of rights.” He wrote to his fellow Virginian, James Madison, the Constitution’s primary author, that “a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, & what no government should refuse, or rest on inference.” Events proved that Adams and Jefferson, from across the Atlantic, were more in tune with popular opinion than the members of the Constitutional Convention.

The ten amendments have almost become the Ten Commandments.

Freedom of speech now seems as fundamental as the injunction against murder, and the right to avoid self-incrimination seems as basic to justice as “thou shalt not bear false witness.” It is surprising to discover that these fundamental rights were so nettlesome to the people charged with framing the Constitution.

The compromise proved effective, winning over enough holdouts to secure a Federalist victory.

The states agreed to ratify the Constitution if the first Congress would set to work on a catalog of fundamental rights.

The battle lines were drawn, Federalists on one side and Antifederalists on the other.

Federalists called for immediate ratification of the Constitution without amendment, but their united front concealed differences of opinion: some thought a bill of rights an essential first order of business for the new Congress, some believed it unnecessary but harmless, and others thought it an evil to be avoided.


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