Bill of Rights for Dummies

The Bill of Rights is a collective term used to signify the first ten amendments of the constitution of the United States.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
The first article (unratified) dealt with the number of seats that were to be allotted for each of the representatives; whereas, the second article (ratified in 1992 as the 27th Amendment) dealt with increasing the salaries and compensations of Congressmen. The ratified rights constitute the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution. And since they are concerned with the freedom and rights of citizens, they are collectively referred to as the Bill of Rights. By 2006, total 27 amendments were added to the US constitution.

First Amendment:
  • Freedom to exercise any religion (Congress should not enact any law in favor of establishing a religion)
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of press
  • Right to assemble peacefully
  • Right to petition for redress of grievances
Second Amendment:
  • Right to keep and bear arms
Third Amendment:
  • Prohibition of quartering of troops (without the consent of the owner)
Fourth Amendment:
  • Prohibition of search (papers, persons, houses) and seizure without reason
Fifth Amendment:
  • Prohibition of arrest for answering any capital or infamous crime
  • Protection from double jeopardy
  • Prohibition of taking private property for public use
Sixth Amendment:
  • Protection of rights of the accused
  • Permission for trial by jury
  • Right to counsel
Seventh Amendment:
  • Compulsory civil trial by jury (according to common law)
Eight Amendment:
  • Protection from excessive bail
  • Prohibition of imposing excessive fines
  • Prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments
Ninth Amendment:
  • Preservation of certain rights that are not enumerated in the Bill of Rights, but are retained by the people
Tenth Amendment:
  • Reservation of certain powers to the states and/or people who are not delegated to the national government by the US constitution
Actually, the Bill of Rights were based on the Massachusetts Bay Colony's Body of Liberties, that were enacted in 1641. Though the bill came into effect only on 15 December, 1791, James Madison, the fourth President of United States, introduced them on June 8, 1789 to the First United States Congress. For his priceless contribution, James Madison, also one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, is honored as the "Father of the Constitution". The other leading proponents of the bill are Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.