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Bill of Rights Day

On August 21, 1789, the 1st United States Congress adopted a series of amendments to the Constitution that guaranteed certain fundamental freedoms for the citizens of the United States of America.

The reason the Bill of Rights was adopted as an integral part of the Constitution was because many states, and individuals, felt that the Constitution did not go far enough in protecting the basic rights of citizens.

James Madison, later the 5th president of the United States, introduced the Bill of Rights to Congress. On December 15, 1791, twelve amendments were ratified and became the first Amendments to the Constitution, although only ten were immediately accepted by all the states.

The Bill of Rights includes the ten amendments to the Constitution that are listed below.

Amendment 1 guarantees freedom of speech, press, and religion.

Amendment 2 guarantees the right to bear arms.

Amendment 3 guarantees the protection of homeowners from quartering troops, except during war.

Amendment 4 guarantees the rights and protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Amendment 5 guarantees the rights of due process of law, protection against double jeopardy, self incrimination.

Amendment 6 guarantees the rights to a speedy trial by jury of peers and rights of accused.

Amendment 7 guarantees the rights to trial by jury in civil cases.

Amendment 8 guarantees protection from cruel and unusual punishment, and excessive bail.

Amendment 9 guarantees protection of rights not specified in the Bill of Rights.

Amendment 10 guarantees states rights and power of the states.

In 1941, on the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared December 15th the annual day of commemoration for the Bill of Rights.

Note: When first adopted, the Bill of Rights applied to white men only. It excluded slaves, women, Native Americans, immigrants, free blacks, and white men who did not own property. In essence, the Bill of Rights did not apply to most U.S. citizens.


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