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TEXT OF AMENDMENTS
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.
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.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time or war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
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.
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.
In all criminal prosecution, 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.
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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
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.
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, were adopted shortly after the ratification of the original document. They have since become the most well-known and, often, the most controversial sections of the document. Not wholly original to the Founders, the guarantees of individual freedom found in the Bill of Rights were actually a culmination of centuries of development throughout Anglo-American history. They had their birth in the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 A.D. by King John of England. In the Magna Carta the rights of man, while only indirectly enumerated, were guaranteed "for the first time in English history in a written instrument exacted from a sovereign ruler by the bulk of the politically articulate community which purports to lay down binding rules of law that the ruler himself may not violate." 1
Along with the Magna Carta, a number of other English charters affected the ultimate evolution of the Bill of Rights. Three of these documents were the Petition of Rights, signed in 1626, the Agreement of the People of 1649, and An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown. The latter of these three, signed in 1689, was also known as the Bill of Rights in English history and no doubt lent its name to the first ten amendments to our own Constitution.2
Using these early English documents as models, the American colonies drafted their own charters with the British crown in which they declared their inherent rights as Englishmen. These charters, like their English predecessors, did not specifically enumerate individual rights as the Federal Bill of Rights would later do. However, many of these fundamental privileges can be seen in the early colonial charters as a whole. For example, the Rhode Island charter was the first to guarantee the freedom of religious exercise. The Massachusetts Body of Liberties ensured the freedoms of speech and petition at public meetings, and the right to bail, along with protections from double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment. The New York Charter of Liberties guaranteed protection from quartering soldiers in private homes and secured the right to a grand jury indictment. A number of colonial charters, beginning with the Maryland Act for the Liberties of the People, guaranteed the right to due process of law. Other examples of guaranteed liberties among the colonies included the right to a public trial in the West New Jersey Concessions; the right to call witnesses in the Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges; and the right to trial by jury, a guarantee found in virtually all colonial charters. 3
NOTE.-Footnotes are printed at the end of each chapter. In addition the subcommittee wishes generally to acknowledge the exceptional reference work on this subject by Alan P. Grime: "Democracy and Amendments to the Constitution" (D.C. Heath & Co., 1978).