The U.S. Constitution was written to explain how the government works. It said what the government could do, but didn’t say what it couldn’t do. There was something missing: It didn’t promise people’s rights. And so, the Bill of Rights was born.
Federalists and Antifederalists
Many of the Founding Fathers of the United States fit into two groups: The Federalists or the Antifederalists. The Federalists wanted a stronger national government with weaker state governments, and the Antifederalists wanted the opposite.
The Antifederalists complained that the Constitution didn’t protect the rights of the people from the government. The Federalists didn’t think this was needed. The two sides agreed that the Constitution would be accepted as it was, then the Bill of Rights would be added later.
And Then There Were Ten
Congress was in charge of writing the Bill of Rights. The first draft sent by the House of Representatives to the Senate had 17 amendments. The Senate rejected this draft, and so the second draft only had 12 amendments. In the end, 10 were accepted.
The Rights of the People
The First Amendment makes sure people have freedom of religion, free speech, and freedom of the press. It also says people can gather peacefully, and ask the government for change.
The Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms.
The Third Amendment says that soldiers can’t take over a person’s home without permission.
The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from police searches unless there is a good reason for it. It stops the police from taking people’s property without a good reason.
The Fifth Amendment makes sure Americans get proper trials.
The Sixth Amendment gives the right to a speedy trial by jury.
The Seventh Amendment allows trial by jury for some civil matters – like people arguing over money, as long as it’s more than $20.
The Eighth Amendment protects against cruel and unusual punishment.
The Ninth Amendment says that just because some rights are named in the Bill of Rights it doesn’t mean other rights don’t exist.
The Tenth Amendment gives power to the states or the people in matters that aren’t in the Constitution.