How did the Founders strike a balance between reserving individual rights and forming a strong and long-lasting government using the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the use of...

How did the Founders strike a balance between reserving individual rights and forming a strong and long-lasting government using the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the use of Philip Freneau's poem "On the Emigration to America and Peopling the Western Country?"

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Jefferson, as an anti-federalist at heart, was very concerned about individual liberties. When writing the Declaration of Independence, he stressed these virtues in filing his grievances with England. This is evident in the first line of the document when he says all humans are granted the God-given rights of life, liberty, and property. The document outlines many violations of individual rights that the king has pursued, including quartering soldiers in private homes and denying colonists a fair trial. In reading the Declaration of Independence, it is clear the framers of the constitution are concerned about individual liberties.

In pursuing a new system of government, the authors of the United States Constitution debated how civil liberties could be protected while providing for an adequate federal presence. There were a number of states that did not want a strong federal government in fear of trampling individual rights. A compromise was realized when it was agreed that a Bill of Rights would be added to the document as Amendments. The Bill of Rights protects individual citizens on a number of levels. Examples include the right to a speedy trial, right to bear arms, and the freedoms of religion, speech, and press. These rights, in addition to the powers granted to the three branches of the federal government, struck a strong balance between individual rights and an adequate federal presence.