Today’s post comes from National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications staff writer Rob Crotty.
Readers, we now live in a brave new world of abbreviation. What was once Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC. What was once the Science Fiction Channel is now SyFy. For many people, this sentence makes sense: “IMHO this is NSFW” (for the record, this post is). Even the National Archives hasn’t been spared: sometimes we call it the Natty Arches or the Chives.
In this great condensing of America, one item has been spared, however. The Bill of Rights–that great document that contains the first ten amendments to the Constitution–hasn’t been abridged by a single punctuation mark. Until now.
It’s time the Bill of Rights got a hip new upgrade and we need your help. From today through December 15–the 219th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights–we’re asking you to condense each of those amendments into separate bite-sized tweets.
The rules are simple: on the appropriate day shorten the assigned amendment down to as few words (or letters) as possible while retaining the amendment’s meaning, then Tweet us your response using the hashtag #BillofRights.
There’s no limit to how many times you post, and we promise that there will be no actual abridging of the Bill of Rights–this is just a way to think about one of our most important documents. So tweet your hearts out!
We’ve posted the schedule below, and every day on Facebook and Twitter (@archivesnews) we’ll be announcing the previous day’s winner at 10 am. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero will pick one winner for each amendment based on brevity and general pithiness. Each winner will receive a Bill of Rights poster from the National Archives eStore, and your tweets could be used in a future Archive store product!
Dates for the contest:
- December 6:
- Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
- December 7:
- Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- December 8: (same day, but a separate tweet for each!)
- Amendment VIII:Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
- Amendment VII:In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
- December 9: (same day, but a separate tweet for each!)
- Amendment VI:In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
- Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
- December 10:
- Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- December 13:
- Amendment III: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
- December 14:
- Amendment II: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
- December 15:
- Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
- BONUS: In one tweet, summarize the entire Bill of Rights!