Friday, April 29, 2016

The “Bill of Rights” wasn’t

The “Bill of Rights” wasn’t “The Bill of Rights” in the 1790s when it was first proposed.

Simply, no one called it “The Bill of Rights” then, not officially, not in print, not in the often contentious debate that preceded its adoption in 1791, three years after the Constitution was ratified.
Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, described “certain articles in addition and amendment of the Constitution of the United States” when he sent out to the states the list of 10 amendments that had been approved.

The first 10 Amendments

In fact, 12 amendments had been drafted to satisfy the concerns of the Anti-Federalists, who had opposed the ratification of the Constitution itself because they resisted the creation of a federal government with centralized power.

It’s not well known that the original Article 12 of the first batch was finally ratified as the 27th Amendment in 1992. It states: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

The original Article 1 has never been ratified. It proposed that members of the U. S. House of Representatives should not represent more than 50,000 persons per congressional district. In the first Congress formed after the Constitution was adopted, each congressman represented about 30,000 people. Today, U. S. representatives are elected from districts containing roughly 730,000 people—if the 50,000 limit were in effect, there would be almost 6,400 seats in the House.

Don’t even think about it.

See Pauline Maier’s books on the U. S. Constitution

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

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