Bill of Rights

US Constitution of 1787

President George Washington's October 2nd, 1789, transmittal letter to the 11 States, North Carolina, and Rhode Island (NC and RI had not yet ratified the Constitution of 1787).
Bill of Rights

During the September Constitution of 1787 debates in the United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) and the subsequent States ratification conventions, opponents fervidly charged that The New Plan for the Federal Government would open the way to tyranny by the central government.  In the Congressional deliberations of 1787, USCA Delegate Richard Henry Lee led the effort for a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens, but the members voted to send the Constitution onto the 13 US States unaltered.

Several state conventions, in their formal ratification of the Constitution, asked for such a "bill of rights” by proposing amendments.  Other States ratified the Constitution of 1787 with the understanding that the amendments would be offered, leaving their construction to the new Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress.  On September 25, 1789, the First U.S. Congress under the Constitution of 1787 proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that met arguments most frequently advanced against it.

The first of the proposed amendments, Article The First, which was suppose to set the maximum of constituents for each Representative at 50,000 in the HR version or 60,000 in the Senate version. Article the First was not ratified due to a blunder in its formulation and transmittal, which is explained here.  The second article of the proposed 12 Amendments, concerning the compensation of Congressmen, is currently the last amendment to the Constitution of 1787, having been ratified on May 7, 1992 as the 27th Amendment.   Articles 3 to 12, however, were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures on December 15, 1791.  These articles now constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, and are known as the Bill of Rights.  Exhibited here are:

 



The February 6, 1788 State of Massachusetts Ratification Resolution, which includes the call that nine “alterations and provisions be introduced into the said constitution.”  - Images from the American Museum, Or Repository Of Ancient And Modern Fugitive Pieces, Prose And Poetica, for February 1787, pages 161-163.




12-Amendment HR/Senate Resolution

Engrossed Copy



Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New York on Wednesday the fourth of March. one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of Public confidence in the Government, will best secure the beneficent ends of its institution;

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; Vizt

Articles in addition to, and amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Article the first. After the first enumeration, required by the first Article of the Constitution, there shall be one representation for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons. [This Article was transmitted to the States but not actually passed in the 12-Amendment HR/Senate Resolutions].

Article the second. No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.  [27th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the third. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the right of the People peaceably to assemble, and to Petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [1st Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the fourth. A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed. [2nd Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the fifth. No soldier shall in time of Peace be quartered in any House, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of War, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. [3rd Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the sixth. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. [4th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the seventh. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. [5th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the eighth. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence. [6th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the ninth. In suits of Common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. [7th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the tenth. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. [8th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the eleventh. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People. [9th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

Article the Twelfth. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. [10th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787].

 Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House of Representatives
John Adams, president of the Senate  

Attested by John Beckley, clerk of the House of Representatives, and Samuel A. Otis, secretary of the Senate.  



Image is from the Records of the U.S. National Archives.

Dr.Naomi Yavneh Klos at the Bill of Rights Case



Bill of Rights: A 1790’s printing of the September 25th, 1789, Act of the United States House of Representatives and Senate in Congress Assembled proposing 12 Constitutional Amendments: “Articles in addition to, amendment of, the constitution of the United States of America, proposed by congress, and ratified by the legislatures of the several states, pursuant to the fifth article of the original constitution.” Signed in type by Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Adams, Vice-President of the United States and president of the Senate. 

Bill of Rights
Congressional Members
August - September, 1789

US House Representatives
State
US Senate
State
Huntington, Benjamin
Connecticut
Vice President
Sherman, Roger*^
Connecticut
Ellsworth, Oliver
Connecticut
Sturges, Jonathan
Connecticut
Johnson, W. Samuel*
Connecticut
Trumbull, Jonathan
Connecticut
Bassett, Richard
Delaware
Wadsworth, Jeremiah
Connecticut
Read, George*^
Delaware
Vining, John
Delaware
Few, William*
Georgia
Baldwin, Abraham
Georgia
Gunn, James
Georgia
Jackson, James
Georgia
Carroll, Charles
Maryland
Mathews, George
Georgia
Henry, John
Maryland
Carroll, Daniel*+
Maryland
Dalton, Tristram
Massachusetts
Contee, Benjamin
Maryland
Strong, Caleb
Massachusetts
Gale, George
Maryland
Langdon, John*
New Hampshire
Seney, Joshua
Maryland
Wingate, Paine
New Hampshire
Smith, William
Maryland
Elmer, Jonathan
New Jersey
Stone, Michael Jenifer
Maryland
Paterson, William*
New Jersey
Ames, Fisher
Massachusetts
King, Rufus
New York
Gerry, Elbridge^+
Massachusetts
Schuyler, Philip
New York
Goodhue, Benjamin
Massachusetts
Maclay, William
Pennsylvania
Grout, Jonathan
Massachusetts
Pennsylvania
Leonard, George
Massachusetts
Butler, Pierce*
South Carolina
Partridge, George
Massachusetts
Izard, Ralph
South Carolina
Sedgwick, Theodore
Massachusetts
Grayson, William
Virginia
Thatcher, George
Massachusetts
Virginia
Foster, Abiel
New Hampshire


Gilman, Nicholas*
New Hampshire
Executive Branch
Office
Livermore, Samuel
New Hampshire
President
New Jersey
Secretary of State
Cadwalader, Lambert
New Jersey
Secretary of Treasury
Schureman, James
New Jersey
Henry Knox
Secretary of War
Sinnickson, Thomas
New Jersey
Edmond Randolph
Attorney General
Benson, Egbert
New York


Floyd, William^
New York
Judicial Branch
Office
Hathorn, John
New York
Chief Justice
Laurance, John
New York
Silvester, Peter
New York


Van Rensselaer, Jeremiah
New York
Clymer, George*^
Pennsylvania
Fitzsimons, Thomas*
Pennsylvania
Hartley, Thomas
Pennsylvania
Hiester, Daniel, Jr.
Pennsylvania
Muhlenberg, Frederick A.
Pennsylvania
Speaker of the House
Muhlenberg, Peter
Pennsylvania
Scott, Thomas
Pennsylvania
Wynkoop, Henry
Pennsylvania
Burke, Aedanus
South Carolina
Huger, Daniel
South Carolina
Smith William L.
South Carolina
Sumter, Thomas
South Carolina
Tucker, Thomas Tudor
South Carolina
Bland, Theodorick
Virginia
Brown, John
Virginia
Coles, Isaac
Virginia
Griffin, Samuel
Virginia
Lee, Richard Bland
Virginia
Virginia
* Constitution of 1787
15 Signers
Moore, Andrew
Virginia
^ Declaration of Independence
Nine Signers
Page, John
Virginia
+ Articles of Confederation
Four Signers
Parker, Josiah
Virginia
** President of Congress
Three Presidents
White, Alexander
Virginia
United States President
Three Presidents



#
1789 Proposed Constitutional Amendments
Proposal Date
Enacted Date
1st
After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand ... until the number of Representatives shall amount to 200; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than 200 Representatives, nor more  than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons. (language in dispute not ratified)
September 25, 1789
 Pending
2nd
Prevents laws affecting Congressional salary from taking effect until after the next election of the representatives. 27th Amendment.
September 25, 1789
May 7, 1992
3rd
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
4th
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
5th
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
6th
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
7th
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
8th
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy & public trial, by an impartial jury of the State & district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
9th
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
10th
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
11th
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
September 25, 1789
December 15, 1791
12th
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


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The Forgotten First Amendment - Please Ratify Now!
For more information go to Article the First

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