The Bill of Rights is discussed almost constantly by politicians, pundits, and writers. It was written as a safeguard for individual liberties. It is one of the most important legal documents in the entire United States of America. Funny enough, for as often as the Bill of Rights is discussed, many people are unfamiliar with what is actually written on the document.
The Bill of Rights is actually part of the Constitution of the Unites States. Specifically, it is composed of the first 10 amendments. Written by James Madison, It was actually a controversial document at the time. The Federalist Party believed that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary. They believed that states and individual citizens should be given the power to protect their own rights. The Anti-Federalist party supported the Bill of Rights, and eventually it became an integral part of the constitution.
The Bill of Rights was designed to limit the power of the federal government and to empower the citizens of the United States. It was strongly influenced by a number of documents that had come before it, namely the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. Like the Bill of Rights, each of these documents was written to protect citizens from larger governing bodies.
Originally, 17 amendments were approved by the House of Representatives. The Senate only approved 12 of the original 17 amendments. After passing through Congress, the amendments were sent out to the individual states. On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the last state to ratify the amendments, of which 10 of the 12 had passed, and the Bill of Rights became law.