Bill of Rights added and national flag chosen on this day; Name of Bill of Rights architect removed from schools

Bill of Rights added and national flag chosen on this day; Name of Bill of Rights architect removed from schools
LU Staff

On this day in 1791, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, after Virginia became the 11th state to ratify it. On this day in 1964, Canada adopted the Maple Leaf flag, resolving the Great flag debate. Today is also National Cat Herders Day.

Recently, schools named for an architect of the Bill of Rights — George Mason — have been renamed by progressive school boards in Virginia, because Mason owned slaves. Mason’s name was removed from a high school in Falls Church, the richest and most liberal city in Virginia, after its Democrat-dominated school board voted for the renaming, despite surveys showing that most residents in that staunchly Democratic city opposed renaming it. The Falls Church City School Board changed the name of George Mason High School to Meridian High School, and the name of Thomas Jefferson Elementary to Oak Street Elementary.

The Library of Congress describes the history of the Bill of Rights:

On December 15, 1791, the new United States of America ratified the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, confirming the fundamental rights of its citizens. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights of peaceful assembly and petition. Other amendments guarantee the rights of the people to form a “well-regulated militia,” to keep and bear arms, the rights to private property, fair treatment for accused criminals, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom from self-incrimination, a speedy and impartial jury trial, and representation by counsel.

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The Bill of Rights draws influence and inspiration from the Magna Carta (1215), the English Bill of Rights (1689), and various later efforts in England and America to expand fundamental rights. George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights formed the basis of the amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.

Mason (1725-92), a native of Fairfax County, Virginia, championed individual liberties throughout his life. In 1776, he drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights and a large part of Virginia’s state constitution. In 1787, as one of the most vocal members of the Constitutional Convention, Mason expressed great concern that assurances of individual liberties had not been incorporated into the Constitution, and, due to this concern and others, he elected not to sign the document.

The Bill of Rights answered Mason’s greatest concern and the concerns of many ratifying states. As a representative in the First Federal Congress, James Madison ushered seventeen amendments to the Constitution through the House of Representatives. These amendments were subsequently reduced to the twelve amendments passed by Congress and sent to the states on September 25, 1789. The first two proposed amendments, concerning the number of constituents for each representative and the compensation of members of Congress, were not ratified.* By December 15, 1791, articles three through twelve were ratified by the required number of states and became known as the Bill of Rights….

*Note: The original second amendment proposed by the First Federal Congress dealt with the compensation of members of Congress. Although rejected at the time, it was eventually ratified on May 7, 1992, as the 27th Amendment.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for CNSNews.com and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at hfb138@yahoo.com

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