Bill of Rights

In 1787, the United States of America was new. It had 13 state. Each state chose people to meet in Philadelphia. They wrote the constitution to set rules for how the United States governs itself.

But the constitution missing something. It did not include individual rights. In 1971, Founding Father James Madison drafted several amendments. Ten of these became the Bill of Rights. They state the basic freedoms of all Americans.

The First Amendment defines the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assemble and petition.

The Second Amendment guarantees Americans the right to bear arms, or own guns.

The Third Amendment prevents the government from forcing citizens to shelter soldiers in their homes.

The Forth Amendment protects the privacy of Americans. It prevents unnecessary or unreasonable searches of a person's property.

In the Fifth Amendment, all Americans are guaranteed the right to a fair and legal trial. It also protects someone from testifying against him or herself under oath.

A right to a speedy trial is guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a trial by jury in civil, or private, legal cases where damages are more than 20 dollars. Civil cases solve disagreements between citizens.

Unreasonable bail or fines and cruel and unusual punishment are prohibited in the Eighth Amendment.

The Ninth Amendment recognizes that Americans have the rights that are not listed in the constitution.

The Tenth Amendment says that the powers not given to the US government by the constitution belong to the states or to the people.

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