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The Bill of Rights
(a transcription)

Drafted in Congress,
convened March 4, 1789,
by James Madison.
Passed by Congress,
September 25, 1789.
Ratified by three-fourths
of the states,
December 15, 1791.

Bill of Rights

The Constitution was far from universally accepted.  Many feared that the Constitution was too vague and lacked specific protection against Federal tyranny.

The Bill of Rights was created to overcome those concerns and to place specific limits on the power of the Federal government.  It was supposed to prevent the Constitution from being misconstrued by a zealous Federal government.  In this respect, it has failed.  Take a moment now to read the document that established your rights under the law and realize how it has now been almost completely subverted by the Federal government.

The Bill of Rights


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 ensure 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; viz.

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.

(Note that the first two articles were not ratified at the time, so the amendments that make up the Bill of Rights begin with Article Three. As it turns out, Article Two was ultimately ratified, as the 27th Amendment, 202 years after it was proposed. Also note that the ratification of Article One is now in question, which means that if ratified, it could become the 28th Amendment.)

(Ratification in Question)

Article the first... 

After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative 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 "more" 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 less than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons

Note: In 2011, evidence came to light that may mean that this amendment was ratified by 80% (more than 3/4) of the states in 1792. This new evidence appears to indicate that Connecticut may have voted "Yes" and not "No" in 1790, as had been previously believed, on ratification of this amendment. If that is proven to either the Archivist of the United States (the one person responsible for certifying ratification) or to the Supreme Court, then it would mean that this amendment would become part of the Constitution (likely the 28th Amendment). If that happens, the number of seats in the House of Representatives would swell to around 6000 and the smaller districts would lead to a much more responsive House of Representatives. Since they would be responsible to 50,000 constituents, rather than 500,000 to a million, they would have to spend much more time at home, shmoozing constituents and we could cut their pay accordingly.

(Became Amendment XXVII in 1992)

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.

Note: This amendment waseventually ratified 202 years after it was submitted. This late ratification was due to the discovery by University of Texas student, Gregory Watson, that this amendment had never been ratified and was nonetheless, still active. He wrote what would become a landmark paper, advocating that this amendment should be ratified. But his unimaginative government instructor, who was obviously stuck in the conformist halls of academia, gave him only a "C" on the paper, claiming that getting a 200 year old amendment ratified was "unrealistic." But Watson would not be deterred by the professor's casual dismissal of his proposal and he began a letter-writing campaign to the states, which in 1992, resulted in this becoming the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. In pushing the 27th Amendment through, Watson is assured that unimaginative government and history teachers of the future will find themselves mentioning his name every semester, right along side that of James Madison, who authored Article the Second.

(Amendment I)

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.

(Amendment II)

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.

(Amendment III)

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.

(Amendment IV)

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 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.

(Amendment V)

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.

(Amendment VI)

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.

(Amendment VII)

Article the ninth... 

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 reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

(Amendment VIII)

Article the tenth... 

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

(Amendment IX)

Article the eleventh... 

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

(Amendment X)

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.




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