Not everybody knows who exactly wrote the Bill of Rights. Some people think it was Thomas Jefferson, while some think it was George Mason. In fact, a lot of people don't know whether it was written by a group of people, like the Constitution, or an individual. To help clear the ambiguity surrounding the Bill of Rights, answers to some FAQs about it are discussed below.
What is the Bill of Rights?
The first 10 amendments in the Constitution of the United States are known as the Bill of Rights. These 10 amendments highlight the rights of American citizens, which are not supposed to be encroached upon. These include the freedom of speech, right to bear arms, right to an impartial trial, right to protection, etc.
Why Was it Written?
The people who were opposing the adoption of the US Constitution believed that if it was adopted in its original form, there would be a possibility of dictatorship by the central government (i.e., the Federal government). The episode of violation of civil rights in Britain before and during the revolution was also on their mind. To avoid such a situation in the United States, they suggested the incorporation of amendments to protect certain rights of individual citizens.
Some state conventions called for these amendments before formally accepting the Constitution, while others accepted it only after they were assured that the amendments would be incorporated.
The Creator and the Father of the Bill
James Madison was the one who wrote the Bill of Rights. However, it is George Mason who is known as the 'Father of the Bill of Rights', as his ideas in the Virginia Declaration of Rights had a great influence on Madison. (It's also worth noting that Mason's thoughts, in turn, were mainly influenced by the works of John Locke, a European philosopher.) The free speech protections written in various state constitutions are also considered to have inspired the language of these amendments.
Madison was never in support of the Bill of Rights. He wanted the Constitution to be ratified without any such amendment. He believed that the Federal government was not strong enough to become a powerful government and would fall in some time. It was Thomas Jefferson who tried hard and eventually succeeded in convincing Madison to support these amendments. In fact, certain rights mentioned in the First Amendment were considered to be heavily influenced by Thomas Jefferson's ideas and thoughts.
One thing that Mason was keen on including in the Bill of Rights was the abolition of slave trade. He wanted to stop all forms of slave trade by passing an amendment, but the Founding Fathers did not accept his proposal. It was only after the violent American civil war that Congress realized that the situation could have been avoided by including the anti-slave trade amendment in the Constitution. In the 1950s and 1960s, various civil right movements spread awareness among Americans regarding the injustice and discrimination faced by blacks and native Americans.
When and Where was the Bill of Rights Written?
The American Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788, and the Bill of Rights was written only after that. On June 8, 1789, James Madison made the first proposal of the Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives of Congress. On September 25, 1789, the Congress approved all the 12 amendments and then directed them to all the states for ratification. Finally, on December 15, 1791, after Virginia sanctioned these amendments, 10 out of the original 12 amendments were formally incorporated in the Constitution.
So we hope that all your doubts regarding the creation of the Bill of Rights have been put to rest. It is important for all US citizens to have a fair knowledge about it as it helps to stay on the right side of the law.