Bill of Rights

(1791)

The Constitution produced by the Founding Fathers in 1787 outlined a new government, but no guarantee of fundamental rights was included, a fact bemoaned by many. After the Revolution, discussion proved contentious about how to convert the democratic ideals of the revolutionists into governmental precepts. The Revolution had been fought largely for the rights that would be included in the Bill of Rights, and a government failing to account for these rights seemed liable to mimic the rule by monarchy that had just been overthrown. As debates over the ratification of the new Constitution raged in the various states, some advocated adding a list of rights to the document. In the end, as a compromise, several of the most influential Founders agreed to subsequently add a list of rights as amendments to the Constitution. This effectively guaranteed that the new Constitution not only would be ratified by the states but also would have fairly widespread support across the nation....

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Bill of Rights (National Archives and Records Administration)

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