Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bill of Rights Day, December 15

President Franklin D Roosevelt issued the first proclamation designating Dec. 15, 1941 as Bill of Rights Day.

After the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787, many people in the ratifying conventions that followed thought it should have a section that protected fundamental human rights.  James Madison wrote 12 amendments and introduced them at the First United States Congress in 1789.   On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified by three-fourths of the states.

The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, protect many of our rights including freedom of speech and the press, right to bear arms, to trial by jury, to practice the religion of one's choice, and others. One of the precursors to this important document was the Massachusetts Body of Liberties.

An online e-resource, "Drafting the bill of rights: a historical collection," includes nearly 20 primary sources including letters, journals, and newspaper articles that tell the story of drafting and ratifying the charter. includes background on the document.  The Bill of Rights Institute provides classroom activities and videos, and resources at the Constitution Center include lesson plans, activities, games, and videos.