United States Bill of Rights

On June 5, 1788, Patrick Henry spoke before Virginia's ratification convention in opposition to the Constitution.
George Washington's 1788 letter to the Marquis de Lafayette observed, "the Convention of Massachusetts adopted the Constitution in toto; but recommended a number of specific alterations and quieting explanations." Source: Library of Congress
James Madison, primary author and chief advocate for the Bill of Rights in the First Congress

The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

- United States Bill of Rights

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Constitution of the United States

Incorporation of the Bill of Rights

Constitution of the United States

Incorporation, in United States law, is the doctrine by which portions of the Bill of Rights have been made applicable to the states.

Page one of the officially engrossed copy of the Constitution signed by delegates. A print run of 500 copies of the final version preceded this copy.

Constitution of the United States

Supreme law of the United States of America.

Supreme law of the United States of America.

Page one of the officially engrossed copy of the Constitution signed by delegates. A print run of 500 copies of the final version preceded this copy.
Signing of the Constitution, September 17, 1787 (1940 by Howard Chandler Christy)
Dates the 13 states ratified the Constitution
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"We the People" in an original edition
Closing endorsement section of the United States Constitution
United States Bill of Rights
Currently housed in the National Archives.
John Jay, 1789–1795
John Marshall, 1801–1835
Salmon P. Chase {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Chase Court, 1864–1873, in 1865 were Salmon P. Chase (chief Justice); Hon. Nathan Clifford, Maine; Stephen J. Field, Justice Supreme Court, U.S.; Hon. Samuel F. Miller, U.S. Supreme Court; Hon. Noah H. Swayne, Justice Supreme Court, U.S.; Judge Morrison R. Waite}}
William Howard Taft {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Taft Court, 1921–1930, in 1925 were James Clark McReynolds, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., William Howard Taft (chief justice), Willis Van Devanter, Louis Brandeis. Edward Sanford, George Sutherland, Pierce Butler, Harlan Fiske Stone}}
Earl Warren {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Warren Court, 1953–1969, in 1963 were Felix Frankfurter; Hugo Black; Earl Warren (chief justice); Stanley Reed; William O. Douglas. Tom Clark; Robert H. Jackson; Harold Burton; Sherman Minton}}
William Rehnquist {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Rehnquist Court, 1986–2005.}}
José Rizal
Sun Yat-sen

In general, the first ten amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, offer specific protections of individual liberty and justice and place restrictions on the powers of government.

George Mason was the principal author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

Virginia Declaration of Rights

Drafted in 1776 to proclaim the inherent rights of men, including the right to reform or abolish "inadequate" government.

Drafted in 1776 to proclaim the inherent rights of men, including the right to reform or abolish "inadequate" government.

George Mason was the principal author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

It influenced a number of later documents, including the United States Declaration of Independence (1776) and the United States Bill of Rights (1789).

National Archives and Records Administration

Independent agency of the United States government charged with the preservation and documentation of government and historical records.

Independent agency of the United States government charged with the preservation and documentation of government and historical records.

The Rotunda of the National Archives Building, where the Charters of Freedom documents are publicly exhibited
1930 Census Record from Naval Station Great Lakes, Lake County, Illinois.
The National Archives Building from Constitution Avenue

The National Archives, and its publicly exhibited Charters of Freedom, which include the original United States Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, United States Bill of Rights, and many other historical documents, is headquartered in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senator from Michigan Jacob M. Howard, author of the Citizenship Clause

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.

Adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.

U.S. Senator from Michigan Jacob M. Howard, author of the Citizenship Clause
Rep. John Bingham of Ohio was the principal author of the Equal Protection Clause
Thurgood Marshall served as chief counsel in the landmark Fourteenth Amendment decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
Senate and House votes on the Fourteenth Amendment
Form of the Letter of Transmittal of the Fourteenth Amendment to the several states for its ratification

The Supreme Court has ruled this clause makes most of the Bill of Rights as applicable to the states as it is to the federal government, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural requirements that state laws must satisfy.

Bill of Rights 1689

Landmark Act in the constitutional law of England that sets out certain basic civil rights and clarifies who would be next to inherit the Crown.

Landmark Act in the constitutional law of England that sets out certain basic civil rights and clarifies who would be next to inherit the Crown.

An 18th-century engraving, based on a drawing by Samuel Wale, of the Bill of Rights being presented to William III and Mary II

The Bill of Rights 1689 was one of the models for the United States Bill of Rights of 1789, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950.

Copy of a 1750 portrait

George Mason

American planter, politician, Founding Father, and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution.

American planter, politician, Founding Father, and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution.

Copy of a 1750 portrait
Coat of Arms of George Mason
Artist rendering of Ann Eilbeck
Gunston Hall postage stamp, 1958 issue
House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, Virginia, where Mason served
Mason's plan for Virginia's constitution was adopted over proposals by Thomas Jefferson (pictured) and others.
Letter from Mason to Washington, 1776, congratulating the general on his victory in the siege of Boston
Independence Hall's Assembly Room, where the Constitutional Convention, for the most part, was held
Gunston Hall in May 2006, seen from the front
George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, in 2015, with the statue of Mason
"Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen", written mainly by Lafayette under Jefferson's influence, was based on ideals codified by Mason.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Mason principally authored, served as a basis for the United States Bill of Rights, a document of which he has been deemed a father.

Portrait by Nathaniel Jocelyn

Elbridge Gerry

American Founding Father, politician, and diplomat who served as the fifth vice president of the United States under President James Madison from 1813 until his death in 1814.

American Founding Father, politician, and diplomat who served as the fifth vice president of the United States under President James Madison from 1813 until his death in 1814.

Portrait by Nathaniel Jocelyn
John Adams (portrait by John Trumbull) held Gerry in high regard.
Ann Thompson
Gerry supported economic policies of Federalist Alexander Hamilton (portrait by Ezra Ames).
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (portrait by François Gérard) insisted Gerry remain in Paris, even after negotiations had failed.
The word "gerrymander" (originally written "Gerry-mander") was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette newspaper on March 26, 1812. Appearing with the term, and helping spread and sustain its popularity, was this political cartoon, which depicts a state senate district in Essex County as a strange animal with claws, wings and a dragon-type head, satirizing the district's odd shape.
Grave of Elbridge Gerry at Congressional Cemetery
Elbridge Gerry House in Marblehead
General George Washington Resigning His Commission, by John Trumbull, shows Gerry standing on the left.

He was one of three men who attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787 who refused to sign the United States Constitution because it did not include a Bill of Rights at the time it was signed.

Title page of the first collection of The Federalist (1788). This particular volume was a gift from Alexander Hamilton's wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton to her sister Angelica

The Federalist Papers

Collection of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the collective pseudonym "Publius" to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution.

Collection of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the collective pseudonym "Publius" to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution.

Title page of the first collection of The Federalist (1788). This particular volume was a gift from Alexander Hamilton's wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton to her sister Angelica
Alexander Hamilton, author of the majority of The Federalist Papers
James Madison, Hamilton's major collaborator, later fourth President of the United States (1809-1817)
An advertisement for the book edition of The Federalist
John Jay, author of five of The Federalist Papers, later became the first Chief Justice of the United States

In Federalist No. 84, Hamilton makes the case that there is no need to amend the Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights, insisting that the various provisions in the proposed Constitution protecting liberty amount to a "bill of rights."

James Madison, drafter of the Bill of Rights, by John Vanderlyn

Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Fifth Amendment (Amendment V) to the United States Constitution addresses criminal procedure and other aspects of the Constitution.

The Fifth Amendment (Amendment V) to the United States Constitution addresses criminal procedure and other aspects of the Constitution.

James Madison, drafter of the Bill of Rights, by John Vanderlyn
The Bill of Rights in the National Archives

It was ratified, along with nine other articles, in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights.