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Bill of Rights

We researched all the colonial and state constitutions enacted before 1791 to find out what the Founding generation said about militias and the right to bear arms in these antecedent documents.

By the time the Second Amendment was drafted and ratified in 1791, all of the states except Georgia and North Carolina had codified regulations on militias in their state constitutions. Read more >>

The first ten amendments prevent majorities from exercising power at the expense of individuals. But they weren’t called a “bill of rights” until more than a century after ratification.

On December 15, 1941, America was at war. Just one week earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt warned the nation that our people, our territories, and our interests are in grave danger” after the “unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan” on Pearl Harbor. Read more >>

A diminutive, persuasive Virginian hijacked the Constitutional Convention and forced the moderates to accept a national government with vastly expanded powers

On May 5, 1787, James Madison arrived in Philadelphia. Read more >>

We tend to see the Constitution as permanent and inviolable—but we’re always wild to change it

Six weeks into the 104th Congress, the balanced budget amendment (hereinafter BBA) that had passed the House almost made it through the trickier procedural shoals of the Senate with the two-thirds majority needed to propel it on to the state legislatures. Read more >>

Every one of the Founding Fathers was a historian—a historian who believed that only history could protect us from tyranny and coercion. In their reactions to the long, bloody pageant of the English past, we can see mirrored the framers’ intent.

It took an Englishman, William Gladstone, to say what Americans have always thought: “The American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” From this side of the water, however, Read more >>

Jefferson and Madison led a revolutionary fight for complete separation of church and state. Their reasons probed the basic relation between religion and democracy

Long before Lexington, James Otis’ fight for civil liberties gave heart to the rebel cause. But why did he behave so strangely as the Revolution neared? Which side was he on?