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North Carolina’s proposed amendments to the Constitution and Declaration of Rights, August 1, 1788

North Carolina was one of six states whose ratifying conventions recommended amendments to the Constitution to protect individual rights. While the other states ratified the Constitution before Congress proposed those amendments, North Carolina withheld its approval until the Bill of Rights was included with the proposed Constitution.

General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives and Records Administration

North Carolina’s proposed amendments to the Constitution and Declaration of Rights, August 1, 1788 North Carolina’s proposed amendments to the Constitution and Declaration of Rights, August 1, 1788

The Bill of Rights

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention disagreed over the need to list specific rights within the U.S. Constitution, but anti-Federalists insisted individual liberties—including the freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly—required protection from the new national government. Federalists promised these protections to entice opposing states to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Fulfilling that promise, members of the First Congress (1789–1791) proposed 12 amendments to the original U.S. Constitution. The states quickly ratified ten, known collectively as the Bill of Rights.

A number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added.

Preamble, Bill of Rights, 1789