Why was the Bill of Rights added to the Constitution?
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Once the delegates at the Constitutional Convention agreed on the need to compose a Constitution, problems began to arise. Northern and Southern states disagreed about the nature and presence of slavery. Larger states with more population and smaller states with smaller populations disagreed about the nature of representation. The largest issue which caused the greatest amount of inertia concerned about the role of federal government in the life of its citizens. Federalists wanted a strong national government so that a sense of law and order and basic functionality can be present in the new nation. Arising out of the terrible reality of Shays' Rebellion as well as the high level of futility featured within the first Constitution called the Articles of Confederation, the Federalists, such as John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, were fairly pronounced on the issue of a strong federal governmental body. At the same time, the antifederalists, consisting of individuals like Patrick Henry and George Mason, felt that emboldening the federal government without some measure of individual freedom to act as a check against the authority would be a repeat of the tyranny featured with King George of Britain. The Bill of Rights was the compromise that pleased both sides. Federalists were happy because the federal government would retain its power to govern the nation effectively and properly. The Antifederalists were happy because the Bill of Rights became the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, and demanded that while federal government possessed power, it did not come at the cost of individual rights.
Bill of Rights was an idea adopted from the British. It was created to protect the people, and give more power to the people. During the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the Constitution was in the process of being accepted by each of the states, and the Anti-Federalists such as Patrick Henry would not sign the Constitution without a statement of a Bill of Rights. The Anti-Federalists were afraid that without a Bill of Rights, the government would become too big and become another monarchy and not a true democracy. So the compromise between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists was an addition of the Bill of Rights, once that was added, the Constitution was approved.
The first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution recognized and often considered part of the original document was formally adopted in 1791. Jefferson stated a written bill of rights was 'what the people were entitled to'. Hamilton declared 'of course individual liberties would be protected' under the new document. Jefferson did not trust centralized authority therefore he wanted it in writing. On the other hand, Hamilton understood the United States required federal authority in order to be recognized by the nations of the world. Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution required nine of the thirteen states vote in its favor for it to become law. It took over two years to gain the nine state vote and with the guarantee of The Bill of Rights it secured those votes. By 1790 the convention hammered the proposed amendments down to eighty, then to twelve, and finally to ten. It can be argued that The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution because the Jeffersonian's and Hamiltonian's understood that the ideological principles of our new nation were just as important as the political realities of being a nation, if the nation was to be.
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