America's Founding Documents

The Bill of Rights: How Was it Made?

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Delaware’s Ratification of the Bill of Rights, January 28, 1790

National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government

Creating the Parchment Bill of Rights

William Lambert and Benjamin Bankson, engrossing clerks for the House and Senate, made 14 handwritten copies of the proposed amendments, which were signed by Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg, Vice President John Adams, Clerk of the House of Representatives John Beckley, and Secretary of State Samuel A. Otis. President George Washington sent a letter enclosing one to each of the 11 existing states and to Rhode Island and North Carolina, which had not yet adopted the Constitution.

In addition to the file copy, the National Archives has Delaware's copy of the Bill of Rights in its holdings. While most states notified the Federal Government of their ratifications of the amendments on a separate document, Delaware chose to apply its certificate of ratification and state seal directly on the parchment they had received.

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