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Sara Lister

Brook Halford
History 1700
6 February 2016
Ratifying the Constitution with the Inclusion of the Bill of Rights
The year 1788 was a time of uncertainty for many of the citizens of America. The
Constitution was written to help structure the government but some felt that the constitution
allowed the government too much power. Each individual wanted what was best for America and
quickly took sides as federalists and anti-federalists as to whether or not a bill of rights should be
added to limit government power. Without the ratification of the U.S. Constitution with the
inclusion of the bill of rights, the government would have complete control and Americans
would not have certain given rights.
Alexander Hamilton states, I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and
to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed
Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers
not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were
granted (Hamilton, online). Although Alexander Hamilton composes a reasonable claim, a Bill
of Rights, provided it be so framed as not to imply powers not meant to be included in the
enumeration(Madison 1788, online),would be beneficial for America.
As an independent nation and a free people, which America is due to the Treaty of Paris,
Americans are privileged with certain rights. As Thomas Jefferson inputs in a letter to James
Madison, Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every
government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on
inference(Jefferson 1787, online), all Americans are given the freedom of a Bill of Rights.
James Madison, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson gives a great example as to why a bill of rights
is important:
Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.
In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the

invasion of private rights is cheifly to be apprehended, not from acts of


Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the
Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the
constituents.Altho' it be generally true as above stated that the danger of
oppression lies in the interested majorities of the people rather than in usurped
acts of the Government, yet there may be occasions on which the evil may spring
from the latter sources; and on such, a bill of rights will be a good ground for an
appeal to the sense of the community (Madison 1788, online).
Should a Rebellion or insurrection alarm the people as well as the Government, and a
suspension of the Hab. Corp. be dictated by the alarm, no written prohibitions on earth would
prevent the measure(Madison 1788, online). By including the bill of rights in the constitution,
we would now have that written prohibition that would establish laws that would prevent this
measure from happening.
According to my own opinion one of the most important aspects of the Bill of Rights is
that it protects an individuals right to freedom of religion. Without freedom of religion
Americans would not have the privilege to worship who they want, where they want, and how
they want to worship. The government would have control. Whether it would be that the
government dictates what specific religion America belong to or whether they were to implement
certain rules and laws as to which days one would be required to worship, America would not
have a choice. Without this Bill of Rights, government would have the power to claim a certain
religion for the entire nation. In a letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, Madison
states that, In Virginia I have seen the bill of rights violated in every instance where it has been
opposed to a popular current. Notwithstanding the explicit provision contained in that instrument
for the rights of Conscience it is well known that a religious establishment wd. have taken place

in that State, if the legislative majority had found as they expected, a majority of the people in
favor of th65measure; and I am persuaded that if a majority of the people were now of one sect,
the measure would still take place and on narrower ground than was then proposed,
notwithstanding the additional obstacle which the law has since created (Madison 1788,
online). Through this, Madison states an example of what government control could do on
religion: that if the majority is in favor of a certain religion, all are required to be of that same
religious establishment. Religion is an individual matter and should not be controlled by the
government. Everyone has the right to their own religion; to practice when and what they want,
and the bill of rights would ensure those rights of the people. It is to be hoped, for ages and
millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of religion, as a part of the national
compact (Federal Farmer 1787, online)
Through the ratification of the U.S. Constitution with the inclusion of the Bill of Rights,
one can be certain that they will be entitled to rights such as freedom of religion, a trial by jury,
and many more. Through this ratification of the U.S. Constitution with the inclusion of the Bill
of Rights, the government would have limited control, and Americans would be sure that they
have been given those rights that were made possible to them just five years earlier in 1783 when
the Treaty of Paris was signed.

Note:
James Madison, James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, The Founders Constitution, October 1788,
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch14s47.html 6 February 2016
Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, The Founders Constitution, December 1787,
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch14s30.html 6 February 2016
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 84, The Federalist Papers, n.d.,
http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_84.html 6 February 2016
The Federal Farmer, Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican IV, Washington and Lee
University, October 1787,
https://slcc.instructure.com/courses/367104/files/53231838?module_item_id=3666034 6 February 2016