The Bill of Rights
(The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution)
Lesson Objectives: The student will...
• Identify arguments for and against the need for a bill of rights in the U.S. Constitution
• Explain why the Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution
• Describe how the Bill of Rights addresses limited government
• Relate the arguments over the need for a bill of rights to the wording of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
• Compare and contrast the fears on both sides of the argument over the need for a bill of rights
Click on the Picture to go to the Bill of Rights Institute
The making of the Bill of Rights
Americans enjoy a wide range of rights, from the freedom to
practice religions of their choosing to the right to a trial by
jury. Many of the rights and freedoms that we associate with
being American are protected by the Bill of Rights, or the first
ten amendments of the United States Constitution.
When the Constitution was signed in 1787, it was missing a Bill
of Rights. But many people in the ratifying conventions that
followed, believed that the Constitution needed a section that
preserved fundamental human rights. James Madison set out
to write this section. Madison introduced his ideas at the First
United States Congress in 1789, and, on December 15, 1791,
the Bill of Rights was ratified by three-fourths of the states.
More than 300 years later, the Bill of Rights still protects
many of the rights that Americans hold most dear, including
freedom of speech and of the press, the right to bear arms,
and protection from unreasonable search and seizure.