Aside from the declaration of Independence, with its ringing cries for liberty, no public document has become as sacred to the American people as the Bill of Rights-the first ten amendments to the federal Constitution. Protecting individual freedoms and safeguarding state authority, they officially went into effect on December 15, 1791. Two centuries later the Bill of Rights and its meaning remain lively topics-in the courts, in newspapers, and in classrooms.
Creating the Bill of Rights documents the legislative history of the amendments and the sharp debates they produced in Congress. The volume shows how James Madison earned the title "Father of the Bill of Rights" while working with other members of the first Federal Congress to secure the gains of the Revolution and put republican theory into practice. It also includes all of the often-colorful letters that the Bill of Rights generated among members of Congress and their constituents.
Taken together, these documents offer important lessons in the history of American liberty and vividly illustrate the divisions that beset the country in its formative years. Published as part of the bicentennial commemoration of the amendments' adoption, Creating the Bill of Rights collects original papers relating to the discussions and decisions that helped shape American civic life.
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