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SENTRY JOURNAL » Uncategorized » Our Bill of Rights is 220 years old today!

Our Bill of Rights is 220 years old today!

Tonight most of us will be watching the Republican debate before the Christmas break.  This will be the last chance for the candidates to pitch their brand of conservatism on a national stage to a very skeptical audience before the Iowa caucus.  Today also marks the day that our Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 by the last state needed (Virginia) to make the first 10 amendments of our constitution the law of the land.

During the ratification process of our constitution a point of contention between the Federalist and Anti-Federalist forces became apparent in regards to providing safeguards to protect individual liberties.  Many in the Anti-Federalist camp believed that the constitution as written was too powerful and did not provide enough restraints to protect these liberties.  They proposed that a bill of rights was needed to place strict limitations on the government. The Federalist disagreed.  They argued that the constitution did not need a bill of rights, because as written federal power was already extremely limited and that all powers not enumerated to the federal government fell back to the people and the states.  The Anti-Federalist won the day and in 1791 the bill of rights became the law of the land.  Below is the bill of rights to include the preamble in its totality.  Please take a few minutes to read it.

Preamble

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 insure 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.

Amendment I

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.

Amendment II

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.

Amendment III

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.

Amendment IV

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.

Amendment V

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.

Amendment VI

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.

Amendment VII

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 reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

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.

The first line in the preamble says it all; “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.

Did you catch the wording?  “In order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added.”  That’s powerful stuff folks.  That’s the kind of stuff the candidates should be talking about tonight and promoting in their actions.  This is the kind of language you should be looking for in a candidate’s words.  Any candidate not promoting limited government and individual liberty either doesn’t understand America and our constitution, or doesn’t care and these candidates should be scratched from our consideration.  This is how I see it.  Without liberty we have nothing.

Please take the time today to read about the history of our bill of rights.  The way forward is by reacquainting ourselves with the past.  A great resource site for the bill of rights is here.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!

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