What you may not know about the Bill of Rights

December 15 is Bill of Rights Day, which commemorates the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. For more information on events and resources at the National Archives, visit our Bill of Rights Day website.

How much do you know about the Bill of Rights? We know a lot and have written quite a bit about it. Below are some facts about the Bill of Rights you might not know:

Magna Carta and the Virginia Declaration of Rights were inspirations for the U.S. Bill of Rights.

North Carolina refused to ratify the Constitution until it had a bill of rights.

James Madison originally incorporated the amendments into the text of the Constitution rather than adding them to the end. Roger Sherman of Connecticut successfully proposed putting them at the end, giving us the numbered list we have today. 

The order of amendments reflects Madison’s original proposal—they come in the same order as the sections of the Constitution which they would have modified.

13 additional original copies of what we now call the Bill of Rights were made in 1789, and most states still have their copy. 

The National Archives acquired the original Bill of Rights in 1938 from the Department of State. It went on permanent exhibit in 1952.

The Bill of Rights toured the country for 18 months in 1947–49 on the Freedom Train.

The Bill of Rights was ratified December 15, 1791; however Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia waited until 1939 to ratify it.

On the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15 to be known as “Bill of Rights Day.”

The Bill of Rights on display at the National Archives contains 12 proposed amendments. 

The original proposed Second Amendment eventually became the 27th Amendment in 1992. 

Do you want to learn more about the Bill of Rights and the National Archives? Listen to an episode of the podcast, “Ben Franklin’s World,” where they go into the National Archives to investigate the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

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