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James Madison's Opinion on the Bill of Rights

Updated on March 13, 2015

James Madison

The Bill of Rights

James Madison on the Bill of Rights

(I wrote this from James Madison's opinion and in his voice.)

January 30, 1787

Dear Journal,

Tomorrow I must convince my fellow delegates, who seem to think I have betrayed my political party, to agree with me on the subject of providing a Bill of Rights to the Anti-Federalists, who are so dearly crying for one. The Anti-Federalist delegates in Massachusetts outnumber the Federalist delegates, and they are calling for a Bill of Rights. Now, I believe, that we should give it to them. Really, it can not hurt us in any way. They are not changing anything in the Constitution, but merely securing the liberties of the people. We already know that they are secured since the people choose the members of the Congress, and the Anti-Federalist’s Bill of Rights is just making a restatement of what is already listed in the Constitution. I do not mind sacrificing another piece of paper for the purpose of restating something already in the Constitution. I say, my fellow delegates; give it to them. Give it to them for otherwise the Constitution shall not be ratified in Massachusetts. And to an extent, we can say that this Bill of Rights must be added for the ratification of the Constitution in other states who’s Anti-Federalists believe the same. I may remind you, that we still DO need nine out of our 13 states to ratify this document. And at this current time, we have only five. I have heard some say that “…they will swallow us little folks, just like the whale swallowed up Jonah,” And that, to me, my fellow delegates does not sound like the statement of an Anti-Federalist that is on the verge of ratifying the Constitution. I advise you to make a Bill of Rights, and re-secure the liberties of the people, for the sake of the Union, for who knows what shall happen if this Constitution is not ratified, I fear dearly continuing with the Articles of Confederation. We must give them a Bill of Rights!

Thank you, James Madison

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