What is the Bill of Rights?

3,293 Views Updated: 15 Aug 2017
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What is the Bill of Rights?

The Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, Emancipation Proclamation and Civil Rights Act are among the most significant documents of the US history, and almost everyone knows about them. However, there’s one document that is just as important as any of these, but many people are still unaware of it. The document being talked about here is the Bill of Rights.

Do you know what the Bill of Rights is and what does it entail? Do you want to learn what it is? Everything you need to know about the crucial document is given below; just keep reading.

What Is The Bill Of Rights?

The Bill of Rights refers to the First 10 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States that were brought into effect to provide constitutional protection to certain liberties of individuals. After the independence was declared and the Constitution was established, the Federalists argued that there was no need for the amendments to the states and people enjoyed the powers that the federal government did not. However, Anti-Federalists were of the belief that a few changes were necessary to safeguard the rights of individuals. The House of Representatives approved 17 amendments, 12 of which were accepted by the Senate as well. When these 12 were sent to the states, 10 were sanctioned quickly, referred to as the Bill of Rights

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How Did Bill Of Rights Come Into Being?

After the Declaration of Independence had been signed in the year 1776, the Founding Fathers turned their attention towards the composition of the states’ and federal constitution. Although it was aimed at protecting the rights of citizens, many considered it insignificant initially. However, owing to the effortless work of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, the Bill of Rights was officially incorporated into the Constitution of the US in December of 1791.

What Are The 10 Amendments?

Amendment I

The first amendment declares that the Congress can never make a law regarding the establishment or prohibition of a religion. It provides the US citizens the freedom of speech and the right to petition the government to redress their grievances.

Amendment II

The second amendment gives the US citizens the right to keep and bear arms. Though many people do not know this, but this amendment also gives states a right to maintain their own militia for their own protection.

Amendment III

The third amendment established that civilians, during the times of peace, cannot be forced to offer accommodation to soldiers in their home.

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Amendment IV

The fourth amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures and offers security to their person, possessions and homes.

Amendment V

This amendment protects the rights of a person accused of a crime, and declares that everyone is to be assumed innocent until proven guilty. Hence, every individual has the right not to be deprived of life, property or liberty, and the authorities cannot force anyone to testify against themselves.

Amendment VI

According to the sixth amendment, every person accused of a crime has the right to a speedy and public trial, wherein he is allowed to procure witnesses in his favor and confront the ones against him.

Amendment VII

The seventh amendment establishes that all Americans accused of a civil crime involving property worth more than USD 20 to receive a jury trial.

Amendment VIII

This amendment protects people against unreasonably high fines and penalties as well as cruel and unusual punishments. It also requires that the Bail Money to be paid by an accused to be released from the prison before they face a trial should also be reasonable.

Amendment IX

The final two amendments of the Bill of Rights address the rights of states and liberties of individuals. This one states that though the Constitution and the Bill of Rights provide certain liberties to people, they enjoy many more rights.

Amendment X

The final amendment states that the states or people enjoy the powers, called 'Reserved Powers' that have not been expressed in the Constitution.

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Posted by: Priyanka Posts: (5) Opinions: (13) Points: 615 Rank: 187

Not a lot of people are aware of this fact but Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, George Mason of Virginia, and Edmund Randolph of Virginia, the three men who refused to sign the Constitution of the United States, did so because it did not contain any Bill of Rights and was silent on several areas where the US citizens were supposed to be given liberties.

Also, James Madison, who most people know as the Father of the Constitution, wrote the first draft of the Bill of Rights after taking inspiration from several sources, including Declaration of Rights of the state of Virginia, the English Bill of Rights and Enlightenment ideas. This draft underwent numerous revisions before it was ratified and accepted nationwide. The original Bill of Rights only deemed ‘land-owning white men’ as ‘people’, and Native Americans or women were not given the right to vote up until many years later.

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