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The Bill of Rights

Primary Source

Draft of the Bill of Rights
Draft of the Bill of Rights
September 9, 1789
The National Archives

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“It seems to be agreed on all hands that paper declarations of rights are trifling things and no real security to liberty. In general they are a subject of ridicule . . . But they regret that Congress should spend their time in throwing out an empty tub to catch people, either factious or uninformed, who might be taken more honorably by reason and equitable laws. They regret particularly that Mr. Madison’s talents should be employed to bring forward amendments, which, at best, can have little effect upon the merits of the constitution, and may sow the seeds of discord from New-Hampshire to Georgia.”

—A public letter, addressed "To James Madison, Esquire." N.Y. Daily Advertiser, 17 Aug 1789.

Upcoming Connect Webcast

The Bill of Rights EFT
October 17, 2013
Noon to 1 p.m. Eastern

Join us for a live Connect webcast with Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton about the battle between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans in 1796. Their struggles over partisanship and the role of the national government and economy resonate today. Join us at and @ConnectCW.

Teaching Strategy

What Are My Rights?

Students sometimes don’t realize that the Bill of Rights protects them as well, not just the adults in their lives. In this lesson, students translate the Bill of Rights into modern English. They then analyze Supreme Court cases involving students to answer the question, "How does the Bill of Rights affect my daily life?"

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Upcoming Electronic Field Trip

The Bill of Rights EFT
The Bill of Rights
October 10, 2013

Gift to the Nation

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