Senate Journal of the Debates over the Bill of Rights in the First Congress

SEPTEMBER 3, 1789

The Senate resumed the consideration of the Resolve of the House of Representatives on the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

On motion, To adopt the second Article proposed in the Resolve of the House of Representatives, amended as follows—

To strike out these words, “To the Members of Congress,” and insert “for the service of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States,”

It passed in the Affirmative.

On motion, To amend Article the third, and to strike out these words, “Religion or prohibiting the free Exercise thereof,” and insert, “One Religious Sect or Society in preference to others,”

It passed in the Negative

On motion, For reconsideration,

It passed in the Affirmative.

On motion, That Article the third be striken out,

It passed in the Negative.

On motion, To adopt the following, in lieu of the third Article, “Congress shall not make any law, infringing the rights of conscience, or establishing any Religious Sect or Society,”

It passed in the Negative.

On motion, To amend the third Article, to read thus — “Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination of religion in preference to another, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed”—

It passed in the Negative.

On the question upon the third Article as it came from the House of Representatives—

It passed in the Negative.

On motion, To adopt the third Article proposed in the Resolve of the House of Representatives, amended by striking out these words— “Nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed”—

It passed in the Affirmative.

SEPTEMBER 7, 1789

On motion, To add the following to the proposed Amendments, to wit:

“That the third section of the sixth Article of the Constitution of the United States, ought to be amended by inserting the word OTHER between the words “No” and “Religious”—

It passed in the Negative.

SEPTEMBER 9, 1789

Proceeded in the consideration of the Resolve of the House of Representatives of the 24th of August, “On Articles to be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States”—

And

On motion, To amend Article the third, to read as follows:

“Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition to the Government for the redress of grievances”—

It passed in the Affirmative.

SEPTEMBER 24, 1789

A Message from the House of Representatives—

Mr. Beckley, their Clerk, brought up the Amendments to the “Articles to be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States;” and informed the Senate, that the House of Representatives had receded from their disagreement to the 1st, 3d, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 21st, 22d, 23d, and 24th Amendments, insisted on by the Senate: Provided that the “Two Articles which by the Amendments of the Senate are now proposed to be inserted as the third and eighth Articles,” shall be amended to read as followeth:

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 petition the Government for a redress of Grievances.”

Source: SLJ Documentary History, Volume 1

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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