Two hundred and twenty-four years ago the Bill of Rights was ratified on this day. The Bill of Rights is made up of those first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, granting things like freedom of speech, jury trial, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and many other useful rights. These rights have been around awhile now and they may seem intuitive today, but the history of the Bill of Rights was anything but straightforward.
Ironically the Bill of Rights was never actually a “Bill” in Congress. It got called that because England had passed a “Bill of Rights” a hundred years earlier. Some felt these rights should have been included in the Constitution. Others did not think we needed this Bill of Rights at all because states would have their own bill of rights. Originally there were seventeen amendments, but the Senate rejected some and combined others. Furthermore, some states did not accept the Bill of Rights right away. Massachusetts did not get around to ratifying the Bill of Rights until 1939 (two years before President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15 to be “Bill of Rights Day”).
Today we celebrate the Bill of Rights, but every day we enjoy the freedom it gives us.