A Bill of Rights is a formal summary of those rights and liberties considered essential to a people or group of people. The first ten amendments to the U.S. constitution are considered to be the American Bill of Rights. The idea of a Bill of Rights was initially debated in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and eventually declined. George Mason was the first to propose the idea of a Bill of Rights, but this idea was defeated. Later on opponents of the Constitution used the lack of a Bill of Rights to incite opposition to ratification (NARA, Bill of Rights). People said the lack of a Bill of Rights left the door open to tyranny such as that experienced during the Revolutionary War. Even Thomas Jefferson who was usually for the new government said that a Bill of Rights was “what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.” (NARA Constitution) The Bill of Rights was presented to Congress on May 4, 1789 in New York City by James Madison, to ensure the rights of the people, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to a fair trial; to limit the powers of the government, for example, no unreasonable search and seizure and no cruel and unusual punishment; and because of political reasons, including the ongoing battle between anti-federalists and the federalists concerning the federal rights versus the states rights (NARA Bill of Rights). .
The Bill of Rights protected people’s individual freedoms and ensured their safety from the government. There are certain inalienable rights that the people believed everyone was entitled to and the Bill of Rights listed these freedoms. The First Amendment says “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.