The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed to assuage the fears of Anti-Federalists who had opposed Constitutional ratification, these amendments guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public. While originally the amendments applied only to the federal government, most of their provisions have since been applied to the states by way of the Fourteenth Amendment, a process known as incorporation. The amendments were introduced by James Madison to the 1st United States Congress as a series of legislative articles. They were adopted by the House of Representatives on August 21, 1789, formally proposed by joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the states. While twelve amendments were proposed by Congress, only ten were originally ratified by the states. Of the remaining two, one was adopted 203 years later as the Twenty-seventh Amendment, and the other technically remains pending before the states. The Bill of Rights had little judicial impact for the first 150 years of its existence, but was the basis for many Supreme Court decisions of the 20th and 21st centuries. One of the first fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
The Philadelphia Convention
Prior to the acceptance and implementation of the United States Constitution, the original 13 colonies followed the Articles of Confederation, created by the Second Continental Congress and ratified in 1781. However, the national government that operated under the Articles of Confederation was too weak to adequately regulate the various conflicts that arose between the states. The Philadelphia Convention set out to...
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