The Birth of the Bill of Rights, 1776-1791

By Robert Allen Rutland | Go to book overview
Save to active project


WHATEVER HOPES the Federalists might have harbored regarding a hurried ratification gradually gave way to a genuine fear that the whole scheme might fail. To save their plan a bold strategy was required, and like many strokes of political wisdom before and since it was applied to give the desired object all the aspects of a sugar-coated pill. Over four decades later, John Marshall was able to review the events leading up to this compromise on a bill of rights without the partisan bias he held in 1788. Then Marshall conceded that during the political battles of 1787-88

Serious fears were extensively entertained that those powers which the patriot statesmen . . . deemed essential to union, and to the attainment of those invaluable objects for which union was sought, might be exercised in a manner dangerous to liberty. . . . In almost every convention by which the constitution was adopted, amendments to guard the abuse of power were recommended. . . . In compliance with a sentiment thus generally expressed, to quiet fears thus extensively entertained, amendments were proposed by the required majority in congress, and adopted by the states.1

Thus did the Chief Justice of 1833 recall the offering made by Federalists in 1788 to win over those who lumped most of their objections under the phrase: "There is no bill of rights."

From where they stood in 1788, however, many of the Federalists saw little evidence that they were on the threshold of triumph. Hamilton believed himself surrounded by Antifederalists in New York and judged the whole cause in the light of local circumstances. Washington's former aide, Tobias Lear, declared that the Antifederalists were tireless in spreading their

In Barron v. Baltimore, 7 Peters 250.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Birth of the Bill of Rights, 1776-1791


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 250

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?