From: Chris McAtee
Time: 3:19:58 AM
Remote Name: 184.108.40.206
Chris McAtee Prof. William Cutler History 67 23 February 2000
Week Six Primary Source Assignment: What is the Bill of Rights and why was it added to the Constitution?
The Bill of Rights came about because anti-federalists argued that the Constitution did not provide enough protection of individual rights. Anti-federalists, contrary to their title, were not opposed to the sovereignty of the nation, but rather believed that the current government was overlooking certain segments of society. Their position gained enough support and popularity across the states to ultimately change the federal Constitution. After the Constitution was approved by most states in 1788, anti-federalists argued in favor of adding additional rights that would protect certain individual liberties. They felt that there were not enough protections for ordinary citizens against the federal government. A government led by a majority could potentially force unfair conditions upon the minority, and the anti-federalists realized they could not allow for that possibility. They wanted a Bill of Rights which would protect every Americanís freedom of speech, religion, right to assemble peacefully, the right to bear arms, trial by jury, and prohibit unreasonable searches. Federalist supporters as well as the president were initially opposed to the additions, but ultimately Madison realized that he would have to deal with the anti-federalistís concerns. Others throughout the country began calling for a second Continental Congress to be held so that these criticisms could be addressed. Madison knew that holding a second Congress could possibly lead to the re-writing of the original Constitution, and he felt he could not afford that. To avoid this, Madison drew up the original amendments himself; they were revised and ratified by Congress and became the Bill of Rights.