Bill of Rights

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Bill of Rights


Image of the United States Bill of Rights.

United States Constitution ratified in convention at Philadelphia September 17, 1787.  Rhode Island had been the only colony not represented having failed to send a delegate.  Document as submitted to the freeman of Rhode Island by act of the General Assembly overwhelmingly rejected in town meetings held throughout the colony on March 24, 1788 (2,708 to 237).   Despite rejection by Rhode Island the Constitution became the official governing document of the United States with ratification by New Hampshire on June 21, 1788.  With inclusion of a proposed Bill of Rights the following year the General Assembly approved “An Act for calling a Convention, to take into Consideration the Constitution proposed for the United States, passed on the 17th of September, A.D. 1787, by the General Convention held in Philadelphia.” on January 17, 1790.  Initially convened at South Kingstown the constitution was officially ratified in convention at Newport, Saturday, May 29, 1790, at 5:20 pm, with 34 delegates voting in the affirmative & 32 in the negative.  Proposed Bill of Rights received October, 1789, approved by act of June 11, 1790 "An Act for ratifying certain Articles, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of American, and which were proposed by the Congress of the said United States, at their Session in March, A.D. 1789, to the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the aforesaid Constitution."

See also:
United State Constitution, Rhode Island Ratification, Papers, 1785 - 1790

United States Constitution, Amendments (Bill of Rights), 1789


Rhode Island State Archives


1791 December 15 (Ratified)


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Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
The Conventions of 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: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several states as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution. viz.
Articles in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress and Ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


United States. Congress (1789), "Bill of Rights," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #300, (accessed July 18, 2019).