While some of the First Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution have certainly been violated in American history, they have, notwithstanding, stood as a standard by which cultural behavior can be measured and exacted. Jefferson himself knew well that freedom can only be true liberty when it is balanced with responsibility, declaring "That government governs best that governs least" as an implication of the necessity of responsibility.
Having long been the cornerstone of the "American dream," the First Amendment is the ideal of freedom and a support to citizens, protecting them from the kind of retaliation against their acts and speech that has been meted out in such realms as Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, although during the 1950s and McCarthyism there were clear threats to certain individuals' rights. There is now the issue of gun control and attempts to circumvent the Amendments by going through the U. N. which many citizens feel threatens the safety and right of the people to bear arms as in the Second Amendment. One can, indeed, wonder in what position the citizens of the United States would be if it were not for the safeguards to liberty that the Bill of Rights has set down. In her biography of Thomas Jefferson, Clara Ingram Judson writes of Jefferson,
his greatest work was as designer of a plan for a government of and by free men.
The Bill of Rights stand as the "city on the hill," the model for all governments, of which John Winthrop spoke in his sermon on the way to New England in 1630.