Citizenship, Education, Free Society

Credit where due

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

James Madison, Jr, took copious notes at the federal convention and fleshed them out between sessions. That he was one of the instigators of the convention is not disputed. That he participated in the ratification process and eventually put the Bill of Rights (as well as the Twenty-seventh Amendment) in their current form are matters of record.

But he is not the Father of the Constitution or the Father of the Bill of Rights. Most of the language in the Constitution proper comes from the literary abilities of Gouvernor Morris of Pennsylvania and the Bill of Rights is a (poor) adaptation of the Virginia Declaration of Rights produced by Col George Mason.

Col Mason believed a bill of rights needed to be the first article of any Constitution—he had done it that way in Virginia. Although present, he declined to sign the document for lack of the Bill of Rights and worked to prevent ratification in Virginia. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts did the same. Edmund Randolph did not like the document and declined to sign.

The Bill of Rights was the result of the anti-federalist movement. Madison was only a drafter, not being particularly invested in the project—he had argued for ratification without a bill of rights. His version of the Second Amendment lacks the admonitions against standing armies found in the Virginia Declaration.

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