The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often times bitter 1787–1788 battle over ratification of the Constitution, and crafted to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add certain safeguards of democracy—specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights; clear limitations on the government’s power in judicial and other proceedings; and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically delegated to Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people—to the Constitution. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those found in several earlier documents, including the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the English Bill of Rights 1689, along with earlier documents such as Magna Carta (1215).
On June 8, 1789 Representative James Madison introduced a series of thirty-nine amendments to the constitution in the House of Representatives. Among his recommendations Madison proposed opening up the Constitution and inserting specific rights limiting the power of Congress in Article One, Section 9. Seven of these limitations would become part of the ten ratified Bill of Rights amendments. Ultimately, on September 25, 1789, Congress approved twelve articles of amendment to the Constitution and submitted them to the states for ratification.
- National Archives: The full text of the United States Bill of Rights
- Footnote.com (partners with the National Archives): Online viewer with High-resolution image of the original document
- Library of Congress: Bill of Rights and related resources
- Celebrating the 225th Anniversary of the Bill of Rights
- 12/14/16 Presidential Proclamation — Bill of Rights Day, 2016