The Bill of Rights is the essence of American freedom. It is what makes us original among the other nations and governments. A cursory reading of the Bill of Rights is enough to bring to mind the bitter taste that was left by the British rule and occupation of the colonies. As the process for rebuilding began, it became more and more apparent that the colonists were in fear of another despotic government and were very wary of providing widespread power to a central government. The Founding Fathers realized that a compromise would be needed before a new form of government could be adopted.
The Bill of Rights stands in striking contrast to the Constitution. While the Constitution was penned as a masterful document which lays forth the powers and offices of the new government, the Bill of Rights states the things over which the government’s powers may not be extended. This was an ingenious invention because the Constitution doesn’t provide protection from a repeat of the tyranny which had just been warred upon. That was the catalyst for the formation of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was the perfect compromise because, as seen in the Constitution, it is the people who grant power to the government, thus it is impossible for the government to grant freedom to the people. The Bill of Rights was not written to be a list of the freedoms of American citizens, it was provided as a list of the things upon which the government may not encroach. This safeguard helped put the fears of the citizens to rest and also instilled a sense of ownership in them in respect to the government.
The Bill of Rights further unified the people and strengthened the government because it focused on the rights of the individual citizens. No government, then or now, places such high value on the rights of its citizens than that of the United States. This was introduced by the listing of the ten most basic, inalienable rights of an American citizen. This was recognized by the people and that recognition provided the strength and creditability to the central government that has allowed this nation to last for two-hundred and twenty seven years.
The Bill of Rights is the document that has made our nation into what it is today. It was and is a powerful, defining document that has changed the history of our nation many times. It has lasted these many years as a shining beacon of the liberty, freedom, and prosperity which is characteristic to our country. It is the life and breath of the freedoms we continue to possess and fight for today.
Andrew Ausley, aged 17, is a homeschooled student from Niceville, Florida who entered this essay in a contest organized by the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County and the Advocates for Self Government. The aim of the contest was to commemorate Bill of Rights Day, December 15.