Five Things Were Deleted from the Original Bill of Rights

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bill of rightsBy Dr. Sinclair Grey III

History is more than a textbook. It’s more than surfing social media sited on the Internet. History is about looking into records that were recorded in the past, oral traditions passed down by elders, and discovering information that’s not readily accessible to the general public.

When you want to understand American history, you need to be aware of items deleted from general conversation. Let’s explore the five items Congress deleted from Madison’s Original Bills of Rights.

The first thing you need to know when James Madison spoke to the First Congress was that he proposed 20 amendments for a Bill of Rights, not the 10 we know today.

When Madison proposed 20 amendments only 12 of those amendments survived the congressional approval process. “Enough of the states approved 10 of the 12 amendments so that the Bill of Rights could be ratified on December 15, 1791.” (The Bill of Rights is the collective for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution) “One of two bypassed amendments was eventually ratified in 1992 as the 27th Amendment; it restricted the ability of Congress to change its pay while in session. (The other proposed amendment dealt with the number of representatives in Congress, based on the 1789 population.)”

Read Madison’s original proposed Bill of Rights

Madison tried to persuade fellow members to have a two-part Preamble that included part of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

On June 8, 1789, Madison reiterated the following to Congress about having a pre-Preamble to the Preamble,

“First. That there be prefixed to the Constitution a declaration, that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people.

That Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”

In a real sense, Madison wanted to bury the phrase that all of us know too well – ‘We the People,’ in the middle of the Preamble.

According to Roger Sherman of Connecticut, ‘the words ‘We the People’ in the original Constitution are as copious and expressive as possible,” In time, Congress deleted the entire pre-Preamble.

Madison wanted to make sure that three liberties that were in the Bill of Rights would be applied to all states. In the fifth part of his original Bill of Rights proposed, Madison penned the words ‘no state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.’ It wasn’t until the Supreme Court in the early 20th century that the selective incorporation of parts of the Bill of Rights happened. This was done as the Court interpreted the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause in a series of cases.

“Madison also wanted to clearly spell out that each branch of government had clear, distinct roles. The powers delegated by this Constitution are appropriated to the departments to which they are respectively distributed: so that the Legislative Department shall never exercise the powers vested in the Executive or Judicial, nor the Executive exercise the powers vested in the Legislative or Judicial, nor the Judicial exercise the powers vested in the Legislative or Executive Departments” Madison felt strongly about this that he wanted it as the new ‘Article VII’ in the Constitution.”

The second part of the new “Article VII” survived the Bill of Rights, It read, “The powers not delegated by this Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively.”

Here’s something that many people may not be aware of. The second amendment, according to Madison read as follows, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

Finally, Madison wanted the entire Bill of Rights interwoven into the Constitution. Obviously, this didn’t work.

Many of Madison’s ideas introduced in June 1789 made it into the ratified version of the Bill of Rights.

In his address to Congress, Madison stated, “I think we should obtain the confidence of our fellow citizens, in proportion as we fortify the rights of the people against the encroachments of the government,”

There you have it – your history lesson for the day. When you continue to explore history, you never know what you’ll find.

Source:, National Constitution Center, Wikipedia, and


Dr. Sinclair Grey III is an inspirational speaker, motivator, author, organizer and liberator of persons from all intellectual, social and cultural walks of life. He is a committed advocate for communal change. Email: Follow on Twitter @drsinclairgrey

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