December 15th marks the 224th birthday of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Originally drafted in 1789, the document addressed many of the qualms people had with the Constitution by guaranteeing freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right to a trial by jury, and many other freedoms which we often take for granted.
In honor of the day, we’ve compiled seven quotes from famous Americans on the importance of the Bill of Rights.
“Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, & what no just government should refuse, or rest on inferences.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1787
“The people of many States have thought it necessary to raise barriers against power in all forms and departments of Government, and I am inclined to believe, if once bills of rights are established in all the States as well as the Federal Constitution, we shall find, that, although some of them are rather unimportant, yet, upon the whole, they will have a salutary [beneficial] tendency.” – James Madison, 1789
“The main effort of our Revolutionary period, it seems to me, was to bestow upon the individual a larger freedom guaranteed by the authority of law. When the battles were over and the Federal Constitution with its Bill of Rights had been adopted, when the Federal courts had been appointed and the jurisdiction of the national laws was thoroughly established, the people of this country found themselves in the possession of greater liberties than were enjoyed by any other nation.” – Calvin Coolidge, 1926
“We will not, under any threat, or in the face of any danger, surrender the guarantees of liberty our forefathers framed for us in our Bill of Rights.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941
“The first article of the Bill of Rights provides that Congress shall make no law respecting freedom of worship or abridging freedom of opinion. There are some among us who seem to feel that this provision goes too far, even for the purpose of preventing tyranny over the mind of man. Of course, there are dangers in religious freedom and freedom of opinion. But to deny these rights is worse than dangerous, it is absolutely fatal to liberty. The external threat to liberty should not drive us into suppressing liberty at home. Those who want the Government to regulate matters of the mind and spirit are like men who are so afraid of being murdered that they commit suicide to avoid assassination.” – Harry Truman, 1952
“The Constitution provides the structure of our federal system and a system of checks and balances that applies equally to each branch of government, to relations between the states and the Federal Government, and, as importantly, to each of us. It protects the rights of all Americans to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ and limits governmental authority to ensure these liberties are faithfully protected-both by and from the state.
But in the end it is each citizen who is responsible for protecting the liberties set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” – Ronald Reagan, 1982
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