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Understanding the Bill of Rights

December 15th marks The Bill of Rights Day, let’s brush up on some history!

In response to calls from various states for more constitutional protection, James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights. These rights include individual freedoms as well as specific prohibitions on the power of government. Federalists thought that the constitution did not need a bill of rights, since the people and the states kept powers not given to the government. On the other hand, anti-federalists believed that a bill of rights was necessary to protect individual freedoms.

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Madison made changes as he saw fit. However, many representatives objected to this, stating that Congress didn’t have the authority to change the words of the Constitution itself. As a result, the changes that Madison made were proposed as a list of amendments.

Seventeen of these amendments were approved by the House, following twelve of the seventeen approved by Senate. Those twelve were then sent to the states for approval, and ten were ratified (or, approved).

 

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