The Bill of Rights: On its 225th Anniversary


            The original constitution approved by the framers in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 did not have a Bill of Rights.  When it went out to the states to be ratified, at each of the state-ratifying conventions there was a demand for a Bill of Rights.  In the very first Congress, shepherded through by Representative James Madison, 12 amendments emerged that also went out to the states for ratification.  On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th state to ratify what became the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights.

            The Bill of Rights, like the Constitution of which it is a part, codified and provided a framework for the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the principles of God-given, inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  It protected free speech, religious freedom, and the right to bear arms.  It ensured a fair and speedy trial.  It defended against unnecessary search and seizure.  The Bill of Rights safeguarded due process and private property.  It preserved individual and state rights.  It defended against an all-powerful central government.  It was a landmark of liberty, individual sovereignty, and limited government.  The Bill of Rights along with the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, were among the loftiest achievements of mankind, the greatest documents of liberty in all of human history.  It was a uniquely American document.

            While other nations maintained international norms and tribal precepts that concentrated power in the hands of one or a few, the framers embraced the opposite - radical, unorthodox ideas such as the rule of law, personal liberty, and free markets that decentralized power away from government and to the individual.  Ours was a nation unencumbered by a history of monarchy, aristocracy, or feudalism.  From its inception, our nation was founded on liberty and individual dignity.  As such it became the freest and most prosperous nation on earth, the pinnacle of Western Civilization, and model for the world.  The Bill of Rights ensured that it would be ever so. 

            We quite properly honor that document today, on the anniversary of its founding, two hundred and twenty five years ago, the Bill of Rights.


December 15, 2016


Brief Bio: Richard Moss MD is a practicing Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon, author, and columnist who resides in Jasper IN.  He recently lost his bid for the Republican nomination for Congress in Indiana’s 8th district. Find more of his essays and blog posts at  Also find him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.





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