Jul 30 2014
Significance of the Bill of Rights and its History

The significance of the Bill of Rights and its history are intriguing. The ratification of the Constitution was long and arduous. One of the heavily discussed proposals was a list of significance of the Bill of Rights rights some wanted to include in the Constitution. Others were opposed to the guarantee of rights believing enough rights were already stated or otherwise implied. Agreement was only reached upon George Mason’s proposal that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution.

In the process of arriving at a Constitution James Madison made 71 proposals of which 40 were voted down. Not only was Madison not responsible for the First Amendment he voted against adding  the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. Mason and others refused to sign the Constitution, and lobbied against its ratification, until it was agreed a Bill of Rights was to be added.

The Virginian delegation of George Mason, Patrick Henry and Edmund Randolph fought for the addition of the Bill of Rights. This resulted in Virginia’s motion to the Federal Constitution for its inclusion. They were selected to prepare a Bill of Rights with Mason as the chair of their committee.

significance of the Bill of Rights

George Mason, Father of the Bill of Rights

Although Madison was opposed to it he recognized that a Bill of Rights would be necessary in order for the Constitution to be accepted. Madison then prepared a Bill of Rights and introduced it as his State’s Bill to the House of Representatives. Most of Madison’s wording on religious rights did not appear in the final version of the First Amendment.  

Although many from several States had a hand in the final version of the Bill of Rights it is George Mason of Virginia who is known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights”.

There are, at this writing, 27 Amendments to the US Constitution. The Bill of Rights make up the first 10 Amendments as debated and ratified by the First Congress (1) which was responsible for the writing and ratification of the US Constitution.

July 4, 1776 marks an important date to the first of a series of critical documents to the founding of America. The Declaration of Independence declared American independence from Britain. This was followed by the Articles of Federation to specify how this new country was to be governed. Issues arose that this document did not address but which the US Constitution of 1788 corrected. George Washington was instrumental in the organizing and process of the Constitutional Convention.

The Congress began debating how the country was to be governed in May of 1787. Major deliberation took place over the role and powers of the President. It was September of 1787 before they produced a Constitution on which agreement was found. It was then up to the individual States to ratify. Rhode Island, threatened to be treated as a foreign country, finally ratified the Constitution on May 29,1790.

Discussion of the contents of the Bill of Rights began on June 8, 1789 when James Madison presented 29 amendments to the House of Representative. Madison proposed his amendments be inserted into the Constitution. Instead they ended up being reduced significance of the Bill of Rights to 10 amendments and added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights. They were finally agreed upon, voted on for acceptance, and ratified in 1791, on December 15.

Actually, one article in the Bill of Rights was not completed for over 200 years, in 1992. Article Two of the original proposal of 1789 was ratified on May 7, in 1992 as the 27th Amendment. Article one has yet to be ratified. Article one proportioned the number of Representatives proportionate to population. The ratification vote fell one short of the 75% required. Currently the vote is now 27 States short.

The significance of the Bill of Rights should be noted by is conclusion. The Bill of Rights was not yet ratified but it was completed on September 25, 1789. On that date the official records of the first Federal Congress states that Mr. Elias Boudinot made a resolution that both Houses approach the President. He recommended a day for the public to celebrate with thanksgiving and prayer. This was to observe how grateful the people are for these remarkable favors from an Almighty God.

President George Washington agreed and made a proclamation which was the first, with many others to follow, in America for a Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving.

The Bill of Rights was conceived from controversy over what the Constitution should include. Today it remains in controversy over interpretation. Nevertheless there is a sizable list of rights guaranteed that need to be protected.

The significance of the Bill of rights is in the guarantees the 10 Amendments spell out. In the Bill of Rights we have listed 30 rights that are guaranteed to the American people.

Following is that list of Guaranteed Rights showing the significance of the Bill of Rights

The significance of the Bill of Rights is readily evident in the 1st Amendment with the right:significance of the Bill of Rights

  1. To Freedom from a National religion being imposed.
  2. Of Freedom to express your religion.
  3. To Freedom of speech.
  4. To Freedom of the press.
  5. Of the people to peaceably assemble.
  6. To petition the Government for consideration of grievances.

The significance of the Bill of Rights is seen here in the 2nd Amendment including the right:

  1. To a well-regulated Militia.
  2. To keep and bear arms.

The significance of the Bill of Rights in the 3rd Amendment where persons have the right:

  1. To consent before any soldier is housed in a private home.

The significance of the Bill of Rights in the 4th Amendment guarantees the right:significance of the Bill of Rights

  1. Against any unreasonable searches and seizures.
  2. To have any searches and seizures specifically described as to the person, place and the thing(s) listed to be seized.

The significance of the Bill of Rights, 5th Amendment speaks to the right:

  1. To not be held for any crime without due process, as listed.
  2. To freedom from self-incrimination.
  3. To freedom from being subject to being twice put in jeopardy.
  4. To freedom from witnessing against yourself in a criminal case.
  5. To due process of the law before any punishment of life, liberty or property.
  6. To private property to not be taken for public use without proper payment.

The significance of the Bill of Rights is also seen in the 6th Amendment with the right:

  1. To a speedy and public trial.
  2. To an impartial jury when accused of a crime.
  3. To be informed as to the reason for the charges.
  4. To be confronted by any witnesses against you.
  5. To finding witnesses in your favor, and
  6. To an Attorney for your defense.

The significance of the Bill of Rights available in the 7th Amendment and the right:

  1. To a trial by a jury in civil cases as per the rules of common law.

The significance of the Bill of Rights as per the 8th Amendment with the right:significance of the Bill of Rights

  1. To a fair bail, no excessive bail.
  2. To having no excessive fines enforced.
  3. To no cruel or unusual punishment imposed.

The significance of the Bill of Rights in the 9th Amendment, the right:

  1. That those rights in the Constitution do not deny other rights retained by the people.

The significance of the Bill of Rights in the last and 10th Amendment and the right:

  1. To those powers not granted to the Federal Government are reserved by the States or
  2. To its people.

The significance of the Bill of Rights in the most recent and 27th Amendment, the right:

  1. That a salary increase for Congressional members cannot take place until the start of their next election to office. Submitted Sept. 25, 1789, ratified May 7, 1992.

Review the full text of the Bill of Rights.

The significance of the Bill of Rights is that it still has an impact on our daily lives, today. When reviewing the rights listed above we can quickly see the impact this Bill has each and every day in the lives of people throughout America. True, there is a great deal of controversy with its interpretation. However, the need for protection and careful application of these our rights is a must for today and for generations yet to come.

significance of the Bill of Rights

Related Articles:

Article: Are the Declaration of Independence and Constitution Related?

Article:  1st Amendment Definition 

Article:  Second Continental Congress and the Committee of 5

Article:  Declaration of Independence and Constitution

Article:  Separation of Church and State Definition 

(1) The First Congress was a meeting of the 13 United States after the unanimous acceptance of the Declaration of Independence. The First and Second Continental Congress were meetings of the 13 colonies leading up to the drafting and acceptance of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence required a unanimous vote. The US Constitution required 75% of the States legislatures for ratification as did the addition of the Bill of Rights.

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About Joe Voutour

Joe Voutour now lives in Arizona via the Seattle WA area. He has an BA in Psychology and a Masters in Business. Joe is retired from his Life Insurance and Financial Planning career. Joe speaks, teaches and loves writing articles focused on helping people think about various businesses and other issues. His writing includes business reviews, economics, Christianity and other subjects of interest. Joe and his bride, Shirley, live in the White Mtns. region of AZ. Joe Voutour is a Founding Member of Vertical Rising.