The Bill of Rights
During the Revolutionary War the rebelling colonies needed to find a way to govern the new nation and created the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation created a weak federal government with most of the power given to the states. The weak federal government was unable to address a number of primarily economic and diplomatic problems facing the nation. A Federalist movement started in order to create a stronger federal government that could better handle these problems. In 1787 delegates were called into Philadelphia to write a constitution with more power granted to the federal government. There was a small but significant opposition to the idea of a federal constitution. Those who were opposed to a strong federal government were called Antifederalists. Antifederalists were worried that the powers granted to the federal government under the constitution would be abused and citizens could be treated as they were under British rule. In 1789 Antifederalists insisted “that the state constitutions, and citizens needed explicit protection from possible excesses by the federal government” (Divine, Breen, Williams, Gross, Brands 150). Antifederalists thought the Constitution put too much power in the hands of the federal government. In almost every state convention, the Antifederalist “pointed out the need for greater protection of individual liberties, rights that people presumably had possessed in a state of nature… A bill of rights, therefore, ought to set forth the purposes for which the compact is made, and serves to secure the minority against the usurpation and tyranny of the majority” (152). The Bill of Rights was intended to protect rights of citizens from federal government.
The first ten amendments to the Constitution collectively were called The Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights protected the freedoms of assembly, speech, religion, the press, and to petition the government to address grievances; the right to bear arms, guaranteed speedy trial, prohibition of illegal search and seizure, and no quartering of troops in private homes without the owner’s consent. Other amendments dealt with legal procedures (152). When The Bill of Rights was written the abuses that the colonists were subject to under British rule were still fresh in their minds. Most of the rights addressed in the Bill of Rights were intended to protect the citizens from the same abuses that might be inflicted upon them by the federal government.
I believe that the most important amendment is The First Amendment. According to The First Amendment, “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.” The First Amendment grants the most individual rights to the citizens. It grants Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech,...