Effects Of The Bill Of Rights

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the short term, the Bill of Rights made a major impact on the United States because it allowed the country to have a new constitution.  In 1787, the Constitutional Convention had written a whole new constitution that proposed major changes to the American system of government.  Most importantly, the Constitution took power away from the state governments and gave it to the national (also called federal) government.  This shift in power made many Americans very worried.  They feared that the federal government would act like the British government and would not respect their rights.  In order to put these fears to rest, the Federalists (who supported the Constitution) promised to attach the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.  The Bill of Rights prohibited the federal government from infringing on the rights of the people.  Once the Bill of Rights was attached, more people were willing to support the Constitution and it was ratified.  Thus, the Bill of Rights allowed us to have a new constitution.

In the longer term, the Bill of Rights has helped to protect our rights.  It has done this in two ways.  First of all, it tells the government that it cannot infringe on our rights.  It makes it illegal for the government to do things like taking away our freedom of speech or religion.  While this is important, it has not always been 100% effective.  There have been times when the government has taken away people’s rights even with the Bill of Rights in place.  One such time was in World War II when the Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps.  Another time was during the McCarthy era when the freedom of speech of communists was severely limited.  Although the Bill of Rights has not always prevented the government from infringing on our rights, it has still been important.  It has helped to make us more aware of our rights.  Because they are written down, we all know about them and many people value them deeply.  The Bill of Rights has made us care more about our rights and made us more likely to resist when the government tries to infringe on them.  In these ways, the Bill of Rights has helped to protect our rights in the long term.


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madi03c | eNotes Newbie

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