Why was the Bill of Rights added to the Constitution?
3 Answers | Add Yours
The Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was added to the Constitution of the United States as a compromise between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. They were introduced in 1789 and became effective in 1791. During the Constitutional Convention there were many people who were very concerned that the federal government was going to have too much power. It was the Anti-Federalists who wanted to Bill of Rights added to the Constitution. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to list the rights of the citizens of the United States and to ensure that the federal government did not have too much power.
The answer to this question has to go back to the Constitutional Convention. In the wake of Shays' Rebellion, a moment that brought the young country to the brink of anarchy, the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to essentially deliberate on how to prevent more Shays' Rebellions and how to govern effectively. Of the many debates that were held and discussed with intensity, two distinct camps of individuals emerged. The Federalists were a group that were petrified at the prospect of lawlessness and disorder that emerged with Shays' Rebellion. Favoring a strong central government that could instill law and order while governing effectively, the Federalists were met by another group with equal magnitude. The Anti- Federalists were convinced that while Shays' Rebellion might not have been good, creating a central government would be far worse. They felt that the excessive force of the central government was what caused the Revolution in terms of the Colonists' corroded relationship with England and its central authority and its lack of respect for the rights of individuals. To reinstate such an authority without individual freedoms in the new nation was politically repugnant and, in their mind, morally reprehensible. The two factions literally stood apart as one could be and the Anti- Federalists would not support the new Constitution until something was included that could check the powers of the federal government and protect individual rights. The Bill of Rights became the bartering chip that allowed the Anti- Federalists to feel comfortable enough with the new Constitution to ratify it.
Bill of rights with reference to the US Constitution refers to the first ten amendments to it that specify and guarantee individual rights such as freedom of speech, religion, the press, and the rights to trial by jury and peaceful assembly. It became a law on December 15, 1791.
Bill of rights was incorporated in the US constitution in response to the the opposition to the constitution on the grounds that it did not specifically guarantee enough individual rights. Thus incorporation of Bill of rights in the constitution helped to obtain the ratification by all the states of the US Constitution itself.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes