The Bill of Rights as Ratified
Note: The following text is a transcription of the first 10 Articles appended to our Constitution in their original form as ratified December 15, 1791. Referred to as "Amendments" in its preamble because they were appended to the Constitution, it is important to note that these Articles were intended to stand as part of our Constitution while subsequent amendments were specified as alterations to our Constitution as prescribed in Article V of the original corpus. The addition of these Articles was a source of hotly contested debates among our Founders. Many objected to such enumeration of unalienable Rights of Man "endowed by their Creator," because such listing might be understood in later years to convey that indigenous rights are alterable by amendment -- which they are most assuredly not. Indeed, both Article I and II of our Bill of Rights, while not specifically altered by amendment, have certainly been subject to much alteration by "judicial interpretation."
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 insure 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.
Article the First
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.
Article the Second
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.
Article the Third
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.
Article the Fourth
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.
Article the Fifth
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.
Article the Sixth
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.
Article the Seventh
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.
Article the Eighth
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Article the Ninth
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Article the Tenth
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.