First Twelve Articles of Amendment – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

First Twelve Articles of Amendment


On June 8, 1789, James Madison rose in the House of Representatives and read his thoughts about amendments to the
Constitution. Based on the recommendations of several ratifying conventions
and the fears expressed by the Anti-Federalists, his suggestions would insert
many rights of the people into the Constitution.

Not everyone was in support of a Bill of Rights, and much debate ensued.
Many of Madison’s proposals were accepted, and some were rejected. The
legislative process had to take place, with
formal bills being introduced in the House, being voted on and approved, then
sent to the Senate where they were debated and modified, and with both Houses
eventually coming to agreement on twelve articles of amendment.

On September 21, 1789, a House/Senate conference was called, and the
differences between the versions of the two houses were worked out. Madison
was one of the House managers in the committee. Several points were agreed
upon, and the House was informed of the Senate’s acceptance of the compromise
bill on September 25, 1789, the official date of submission of the Bill of
Rights to the states. The Bill included the twelve articles as well as a
preamble which, while not a part of the Constitution, is important as a way to
place the Bill in historical context.

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Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their
adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent
misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and
restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public
confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its

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 the said Legislatures, to be valid
to all intents and purposes, as part of the 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 the 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,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall
not be violated, and no Warrants 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 cases arising in the 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 in 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 to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of 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 at common law, where the value in controversy
shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and
no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-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 and unusual punishments inflicted.

Article the eleventh … The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain
rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the

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

Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House
John Adams, Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate

Attest John Beckley, Clerk of the House of Representatives
Sam. A. Otis Secretary of the Senate