In 1791 another documentby the name of the Bill of Rights was proposed in the United States. Itcontains the first ten amendments of the Constitution of the country and isdescribed by Jefferson as what people are entitled to against every governmenton earth. They are (1) the freedom of press, speech and religion; (2) theright to bear arms; (3) prohibition of quartering of troops; (4) protectionagainst 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-numerated rights and(10) reservation of powers i. e. powers not reserved for the federal governmentresidue in the states (MacmillanEncyclopaedia, 1999).
TheBill was basically formulated because during the debates of the adoption of theConstitution, the opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as draftedwould open the way to tyranny by the central government. The memory of therevolution was still fresh in their minds i. e. the British had carried out theviolation of civil rights and liberties before and during the revolution.
Thusit was no surprise when a bill of rights was demanded by the opposition thatwould spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several stateconstitutions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for suchamendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that theamendments would be offered (Bent David, James Madison proposes the Bill ofRights to the House of Representatives, 1996). Therefore on 25 September 1789,the First Congress of the United States proposed twelve amendments to theConstitution to the state legislatures. These amendments included argumentsthat were most frequently put forth against the Constitution itself. The firsttwo proposed amendments which concerned the number of constituents for eachrepresentative and the compensation of the Congressmen were not ratified (Bent,1996).
Articles three to twelve were however ratified by three-fourths of thestate legislatures, constitute the first ten amendments of the constitutionknown as the Bill of Rights. As James Madison stated while drafting the Bill ofRights: I should be unwilling to see a door opened for a re-consideration ofthe whole structure of the government, for a re-consideration of the principlesand the substance of the powers given; because I doubt if such a door wasopened, if we should be very likely to stop at that point which would be safeto the government itself (Bent, 1996). It is clear from the above excerpt thatJames Madison did not think that the Bill of Rights was that important adocument and was only required to humiliate those who thought it wasdetrimental the country. However nothing could be further from the truth as itturned out that the Bill of Rights was indeed important in the safeguarding ofcivil rights and liberties that had previously been taken for granted.
Thuslater on when Madison in his speech said: I will state my reasons why I thinkit 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 whichI owe to myself and my constituents, to let the subject pass over in silence, Imost certainly should not trespass upon the indulgence of this house. But Icannot do this; and am therefore compelled to beg a patient hearing to what Ihave to lay before you. And I do most sincerely believe that if congress willdevote but one day to this subjects, so far as to satisfy the public that we donot disregard their wishes, it will have a salutary influence on the publiccouncils, and prepare the way for a favorable reception of our future measures(Bent, 1996). .