Ratification of the Bill of Rights by the First Congress

From the Appendix to Gales and Seaton’s History of Debates in the First Congress

Ratifications of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

BY THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.

In the House of Representatives,

January 25, 1790.

Upon reading and maturely considering the proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution,

Voted, To accept the whole of said amendments, except the second article, which was rejected. Sent up for concurrence.

THOMAS BARTLETT, Speaker.

In Senate, the same day, read and concurred.

J. PEARSON, Secretary.


BY THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

The People of the State of New York, by the Grace of God free and independent:

To all to whom these presents shall come or may concern, greeting:

Know ye, that we, having inspected the records remaining in our Secretary’s office, do find there a certain act of our Legislature, in the words following:

AN ACT ratifying certain Articles in addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by the Congress.

Whereas, by the fifth article of the Constitution of the United States of America, it is provided that the Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to the said Constitution, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by Congress.

And whereas, in the session of the Congress of the United States of America, begun and held at the city of New York, on Wednesday, the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, it was 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 said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as a part of 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 First. After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

Article the Second. No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Article the Third. 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 Fourth. 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 Fifth. 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 Sixth. The right of the People to be secure in their persons, papers, houses, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant 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 Seventh. 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 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 into 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 Eighth. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right of a speedy and public trial by an impartial [jury] 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 Ninth. In suits of common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be otherwise examined, in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Article the Tenth. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.

Article the Eleventh. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or to disparage others retained by the People.

Article the Twelfth. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the People.

And whereas the Legislature of this State have considered the said Articles, and do agree to the same, except the second Article: Therefore,

Be it enacted by the People of the State of New York represented in Senate and Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the said Articles, except the second, shall be, and are hereby, ratified, by the Legislature of this State.

STATE OF NEW YORK, IN ASSEMBLY,

February 22, 1790.

This bill having been read the third time,
Resolved, That this bill do pass.

By order of the Assembly,

GULIAN VERPLANCK, Speaker.

STATE OF NEW YORK, IN SENATE,

February 24, 1790.

This bill having been read a third time,
Resolved, That this bill do pass.

By order of the Senate,

ISAAC ROOSEVELT,
President pro hac vice.


BY THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA.

In GENERAL ASSEMBLY,

State of Pennsylvania, to wit:

In pursuance of a resolution of the General Assembly of the State of Pennsylvania, being the Legislature thereof, I do hereby certify that the paper hereunto annexed contains an exact and true exemplification of the act whereof it purports to be a copy, by virtue whereof the several amendments therein mentioned, proposed to the Constitution of the United States, were, on the part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, agreed to, ratified, and confirmed.

Given under my hand, and the Seal of the State, this eleventh day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety.

RICHARD PETERS, Speaker.

AN ACT declaring the assent of this State to certain amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

SECTION 1. Whereas, in pursuance of the fifth article of the Constitution of the United States, certain Articles of Amendment to the said Constitution have been proposed by the Congress of the United States, for the consideration of the Legislatures of the several States: And whereas this House, being the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania, having maturely deliberated thereupon, have resolved to adopt and ratify the articles hereafter enumerated, as part of the Constitution of the United States:

SECTION 2. Be it enacted, therefore, and it is hereby enacted by the Representatives of the Freemen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That the following amendments to the Constitution of the United States, proposed by the Congress thereof, viz:

[Here follow the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth articles, which were proposed by Congress to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United State.]

Be, and they are hereby, ratified, on behalf of this State, to become, when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, part of the Constitution of the United States.

Signed by order of the House,

RICHARD PETERS,
Speaker of the G.A.


BY THE STATE OF DELAWARE.

UNITED STATES, March 8, 1790.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I have received from His Excellency Joshua Clayton, President of the State of Delaware, the Articles proposed by Congress _________ latures of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which articles were transmitted to him for consideration of the Legislature of Delaware, and are now returned, with the following resolutions annexed to them, viz:

“The General Assembly of Delaware having taken into their consideration the above Amendments, proposed by Congress to the respective Legislatures of the several States:

Resolved, That the first article be postponed.

Resolved, That the General Assembly do agree to the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth articles; and we do hereby assent to, ratify, and confirm, the same, as part of the Constitution of the United States.

In testimony whereof, we have caused the great seal of the State to be hereunto affixed, this twenty-eighth day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety, and in the fourteenth year of the Independence of the Delaware State.

Signed by order of the Council,
GEO. MITCHELL, Speaker.

Signed by order of the Ho. Of Assembly,
JEHU DAVIS, Speaker.”


BY THE STATE OF MARYLAND.

ANNAPOLIS, January 15, 1790.

SIR: I have the honor to enclose a copy of an Act of the Legislature of Maryland, to ratify certain articles in addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress to the Legislatures of the several States.

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, sir, your most obedient servant,

J. E. HOWARD.

His Excellency the PRESIDENT of the United States.

[Here follows an Act of the Legislature enumerating all the twelve Amendments proposed by Congress, concluding with the following enacting clause:]

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Maryland, That the aforesaid articles, and each of them, be, and they are hereby, confirmed and ratified.

By the House of Delegates, Dec. 17, 1789.
Read and assented to. By order.

W. HARWOOD, Clerk.

By the Senate, Dec. 19, 1789.
Read and assented to. By order.

H. RIDGELY, Clerk.


BY THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

CHARLESTON, January 28, 1790.

I have the honor to transmit you the entire adoption, by the Legislature of this State, of the Amendments proposed to the Constitution of the United States.

I am, with the most perfect esteem and respect, your most obedient servant,

CHARLES PINCKNEY.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

January 18, 1790.

The House took into consideration the Report of the committee to whom was referred the resolution of the Congress of the United States, of the fourth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, proposing Amendments to Constitution of the United States.

After enumerating all the twelve articles, it is added,

Which being read through, was agreed to.

Resolved, That this House do adopt the said several articles, and that they become a part of the Constitution of the United States.

Resolved, That the resolutions be sent to the Senate for their concurrence.

By order of the House:

JACOB READ,
Speaker of the House Reps.

In SENATE, January 19, 1790.

Resolved, That this House do concur with the House of Representatives in the foregoing resolutions.

By order of the Senate:

D. DE SAUSSURE,
President of the Senate.


BY THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA.

AN ACT to ratify the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Whereas the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, on the fourth day of March, did resolve, 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 said Constitution.

[Here follow the several Articles of Amendment, verbatim, as proposed by Congress to the Legislatures of the several States.]

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the said Amendments, agreeable to the fifth article of the original Constitution, be held and ratified on the part of this State as articles in addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America.

CHA’S JOHNSON, S. S.
S. CABARRUS, S. H. C.

Read three times, and ratified in General Assembly, this 22d day of December, Anno Domini 1789.

JAMES GLASGOW, Sec.


BY THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS.

State Of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

In General Assembly, June Session, 1790.

AN ACT for ratifying certain articles as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, and which were proposed by the Congress of the said States, at their session in March, A.D. 1788, to the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth article of the aforesaid Constitution.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, and by the authority thereof it is hereby enacted, That the following articles, proposed by the Congress of the United States of America, at their session in March, A.D. 1789, to the Legislatures of the several States, for ratification, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, said Constitution, be, and the same are hereby, fully assented to, and ratified on the part of this State.

[Here follow all the Amendments proposed by Congress, except the second.]

It is Ordered, That his Excellency the Governor be, and he is hereby, requested to transmit to the President of the said United States, under the seal of this State, a copy of this act, to be communicated to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States.

A true copy, duly examined,

HENRY WARD, Secretary.


BY THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY.

AN ACT to ratify, on the part of this State, certain Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Whereas the Congress of the United States, begun and held at the city of New York, on Wednesday, the fourth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, resolved, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that sundry 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:

And whereas the President of the United States did, in pursuance of a resolve of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, transmit to the Governor of this State the Amendments proposed by Congress, which were by him laid before the Legislature for their consideration: Wherefore,

1. Be it enacted by the Council and General Assembly of this State, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the following Articles, proposed by Congress, in addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States,

[Here follow, verbatim, the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Articles of the said Amendments proposed by Congress to the Legislatures of the several States.]

Be, and the same are hereby, ratified and adopted by the State of New Jersey.

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, Nov. 19, 1789.

This bill having been three times read in this House,

Resolved, That the same do pass.

By order of the House:

JON BEATY, Speaker.

COUNCIL OF CHAMBER, Nov. 20, 1789

This bill having been three times read in Council,

Resolved, That the same do pass.

By order of the House:

WILLIAM LIVINGSTON,
President.

Contents

Introduction

Introductions, the documentary history of each amendment, and major themes about the adoption of the Bill of Rights.

From Political Liberty to Social Freedom

Using artwork, see how the idea of rights has changed throughout American history.

View Feature

Documentary Origins and Politics of the Bill of Rights

Interactive chart showing the origins of each of the rights in the Bill of Rights.

View Interactive

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