Amending the federal Constitution to include a bill of rights was the essential political compromise in the creation of the United States government. Even though Federalists believed that individual rights were fully protected by state and common law, they knew that Anti-Federalists would never embrace the new Constitution until amendments protecting specific rights were adopted.

Therefore, in 1789 Congress passed proposed amendments to the Constitution as one of its first orders of business. Viewed as unnecessary by many and a mere diversion by others, the first ten amendments, which are known as the “Bill of Rights,” became the bedrock of individual rights and liberties.

“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.”

Preamble to the Bill of Rights