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Ensuring Essential Freedoms

During the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787-1788, many people felt the document lacked sufficient protection for citizens’ individual rights and liberties. George Mason, author of the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, warned of the government’s usurpation of liberties without specific protections in the Constitution. Some states, when ratifying the Constitution, included amendments specifying individual rights. To broaden support for the new Constitution, the First Congress proposed a series of amendments that became today’s Bill of Rights.

1 Image George Washington’s notes on George Mason's Objections to the... View All Images
2 Images North Carolina's Proposed Amendments to the Constitution and... View All Images
1 Image Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, August 9, 1788 View All Images
1 Image Senate Revisions to the House-passed Amendments to the Constitution,... View All Images