On December 15, 1791 the Virginia House of Delegates ratified the Bill of Rights officially adding the first ten amendments to the Constitution and completing the political deal that led to the adoption of Constitution despite deep suspicion and resistance in many states. It was both symbolic and fitting that Virginia, home to James Madison, the acknowledged Father of the Constitution and its eloquent defender with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in the Federalist Papers as well the new system of government’s most bitter critics led by Virginians George Mason and Patrick Henry.
|James Madison, Father of the Consitution|
Madison and proponents of a more effective government than the feeble Articles of Confederation provided had managed to win over at least some of the Anti-Federalists by promising the immediate adoption of protections to civil and state’s rights which had not been enumerated in the original document. Thus the Bill of Rights.
|Patrick Henry, Leading Anti-Federalist.|
One of Virginia’s two most important political figure—General George Washington who everyone expected would be the first President under the new Constitution—was known to be a strong supporter both of the Constitution and of the additional document that made it politically palatable. The other, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and former Revolutionary Governor, was serving as Minister to France and ad not publicly participated in the debate. On one hand, he shared the Anti-Federalist’s deep distrust of a possibly tyrannical government but on the other loathed his old political foe Patrick Henry and trusted his closest political protégée, Madison. The Bill of Rights did much to assuage any qualms he might have by enshrining protections of religious freedom and of speech and the press so close to his heart into the nation’s foundational document.
Back in 2011 for the 220th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I celebrated with a version of this tongue-in-cheek post. I have modified it modestly to fit current conditions.
|The Congressional sock drawer where the mysterious document was accidently discovered.|
A befuddled Republican Congress this week discovered a strange document while sorting mismatched socks. In the drawer under the Argyles, tube sox, over-the-calf dress hose, smelly gym socks, and some that apparently were used for, well, cleaning up “nocturnal emissions” they discovered a tattered page on yellowing parchment with faded ink.
Funny, the last time Congress looked the liner was the Wall Street Journal page of insider stock tips with a bullet.
Considering an investigation of how the scrap got in the drawer, Congress showed the paper to alleged experts. Someone with a photographic memory recognized it as something called The Bill of Rights, which evidently had something to do with another document called the Constitution. Legend has it that it was adopted after Virginia approved it on December 15, 1791. Congress, however, has its doubts.
|Mysteriously, one section of the document seemed to echo holy words previously ascribed to Founder Moses.|
The words scribbled on the page in high falutin’ script were unfamiliar except one bullet point that seemed to echo a holy commandment handed thought to be handed down by Founding Father Moses on an extra tablet. The rest seemed horrifically dangerous and might be Communist.
Trying to keep the document from becoming public, Congress hid it under the bed with the collection of vintage Playboy magazines.
Unfortunately, a perverted housekeeper found the document and leaked a copy to the press. Most of the main stream media would not touch such an inflammatory document.
Word circulated mostly in the alternative media, subversive websites, and on social media. President Donald Trump was asked about it at a campaign-like appearance before the questioner was tackled and beaten while the crowd chanted “lynch him, lynch him.” Trump did say that the document was just the “ravings of losers” and launched on a five minute mocking attack on one of the alleged authors, Little Jemmey Madison, for being a pygmy runt.
As a public service we in the blog-o-sphere have a responsibility to put it out the controversial and disputed text so you can decide for yourselves on its authenticity and/or relevance. With some trepidation Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout presents the text here.
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The Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.