The Bill of Rights: the Story Behind the Amendments

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Part 1: The Need for Amendments

The Constitution as approved by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention is full of powers granted to the federal government. These powers are further broken up into a separation of powers, making the powers shared by the three branches of government: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.

Yet nowhere in the Constitution is a list of things the government cannot do.

The American people were deeply concerned about their rights under the new government. Even if this new government looked to be a great improvement over the monarchy that the people had just overthrown, the blueprint of the new government didn't guarantee its people such natural rights as freedom of religion and freedom of speech. (Many colony governments had.)

And yet, here was the Constitution, waiting to be signed and approved by enough delegates and enough states to declare it law. Protection of natural rights wasn't really in the Constitution, so the delegates had to invent a place to put them.

They came up with the Bill of Rights.

Next page > The First Amendment > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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