On this day: James Madison introduces the Bill of Rights


On June 8, 1789, James Madison addressed the House of Representatives and introduced a proposed Bill of Rights to the Constitution. More than three months later, Congress would finally agree on a final list of Rights to present to the states.

Some of Madison’s opening list of amendments didn’t make the final cut in September. The House agreed on a version of the Bill of Rights that had 17 amendments, and later, the Senate consolidated the list to 12 amendments. In the end, the states approved 10 of the 12 amendments in December 1791.

One of two amendments rejected by the states was eventually ratified in 1992 as the 27th Amendment; it restricted the ability of Congress to change the pay of a sitting Congress while in session. (The other proposed amendment dealt with the number of representatives in Congress, based on the 1789 population.)

But if Madison had his original way, our Constitution would have a two-part Preamble that includes part of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence before the current preamble.

On June 8, 1789, Madison told Congress the Preamble needed a “pre-Preamble.”

“First. That there be prefixed to the Constitution a declaration, that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. That Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”

for the complete article … constitutioncenter.org