On December 15, 2016, the Bill of Rights turned 225 years old.
The Constitution that came out of the Convention of 1787 did not include a Bill of Rights, despite the objections of delegates George Mason and Elbridge Gerry, who sought to protect the fundamental rights of the people from a newly empowered President and Congress.
But during the ratification debates, opponents to the Constitution fought hard for amendments specifying those rights. Despite his initial resistance to the idea, James Madison eventually introduced a Bill of Rights in Congress. Ten of those amendments were ratified in 1791.
Joining We the People to discuss the history and legacy of the Bill of Rights are two leading historians of the Founding era.
Carol Berkin is Presidential Professor in American Colonial and Revolutionary History, and Women’s History, at Baruch College. She is the author of several books, including The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America’s Liberties, which she discussed at the Constitution Center in May 2015.
David O. Stewart is an historian, author, and constitutional lawyer. He, too, is the author of several books, including Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America. David was most recently at the Constitution Center in October 2016 for a program on George Mason and the Bill of Rights.
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