The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, or the Bill of Rights were introduced by James Madison, the American politician and one of the founders of the United States, who later served as the fourth president (1809-1817). These legislative documents came into force two years later when they were officially ratified by the majority of the states (seven out of thirteen). The Bill of Rights primary concerns are human rights and liberties. Freedom and liberties include freedom of speech, free press, free assembly, free association, and the right to carry and use armed weapons.
The Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights in many respects stemmed from individual freedoms that had been expressed in English Bill of Rights from 1689 which allowed for the freedom of speech in parliament that could not be contended and the taxes could not be raised on the initiative of the crown. At the Constitutional Convention held in 1787, the English Bill of Rights and state bills of rights were used to establish all the main points in the United States Constitution. There was no mention of the fundamental human rights and liberties since it was thought that the part of the Constitution that prevents an intrusion of another government was itself an adequate way of protecting all citizens. Similarly to the English variant, the Congress had the sole authority to manage and control the army as well as to pass new laws and regulate taxes – all this acted as a substitute for what would later be a series of legislative documents that define rights and liberties of individual much more thoroughly.
Many traditional elements found in English common law practice were also included such as the “habeas corpus” convention that prevented imprisonment that had no grounds in law. In spite of all this, there were no other efforts to include basic rights present in almost any constitution in the world – freedom of speech, press, and religion and the rights for individuals accused of crimes before a court of law. Since this state of affairs was unacceptable, James Madison (with the help from Thomas Jefferson and George Mason) composed the Bill of Rights as we know it today and submitted it to states. They ratified all but two amendments dealing with number of seats in congress and salaries. The Bill of Rights had a very powerful effect upon many aspects of law in the United States.