“I wish the plan was prefaced with a Bill of Rights. And I would second a motion if made for the purpose. It would give great quiet to the people.”
—George Mason, Virginia delegate to the
Last year’s rancorous ratification debates leave no doubt. Anti-Federalists are deeply unhappy with the Constitution. High on their list of objections: it lacks a bill of rights to keep the new government from trampling on individual freedoms.
Debate in Massachusetts, Virginia and New York was particularly fierce. Anti-Federalists there signed on only after Federalists agreed to support amending the Constitution to include guarantees of personal liberties.
Soon after the first Congress convened, James Madison introduced a Bill of Rights. Today, Congress agreed to send it on to the states for ratification.
What Madison calls the “great rights of mankind” include the rights to speak and write what we want, worship as we please and receive a fair trial.
These additions should make it easier for all Americans to embrace the Constitution.