National Archives News

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Bill of Rights Day, December 15.

The National Archives and Records Administration joins in the national celebration of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which spell out our rights as Americans. It guarantees civil rights and liberties such as freedom of speech, press, and religion. It sets rules for due process of law and reserves all powers not delegated to the Federal Government to the people or the states. The original joint resolution proposing the Bill of Rights is on permanent display at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Accordion

Historical Video 

The link to this video shows the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence loaded in an armored truck at the Library of Congress, taken to the National Archives Building in a procession, and carried up the building's steps. Then on Bill of Rights Day 1952, President Harry Truman and Chief Justice Vinson speak in a ceremony at the National Archives on the importance of the document


"Amending America" Exhibit

Take a virtual tour of our "Amending America" exhibit, which highlights the remarkably American story of how we have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution in order to form a nation that more closely mirrors our ideals

Amending America: How Do We Amend?

This animated short, made for the “Amending America” exhibit, describes how an amendment can be proposed and ratified. It also illustrates how our Founders included Article V to make it possible to amend our Constitution


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Why the Bill of Rights?

A panel discusses the story behind the Bill of Rights, the ratification of the Constitution, and the First Federal Congress. Panelists include Joseph Ellis, Jack Takeover, and Kenneth Bowling:

The Charters of Freedom

On Bill of Rights Day in 1952 the Charters of Freedom—the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights went on display together for the first time.

The Bill of Rights and the First Federal Congress​

In this video, Charlene Bickford, Director of the First Federal Congress Project, discusses the NHPRC-funded project and the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights by the First Federal Congress:

Washington, DC, Exhibits

The Bill of Rights is on permanent display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom
The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom is the permanent home of the Declaration of IndependenceConstitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. Come visit seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Last admission is 30 minutes prior to closing; closed Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day)

Traveling exhibit

"Amending America: Bill of Rights" traveling exhibit is at George Mason’s Gunston Hall until March 19, 2018, and at the Jewish Museum of Maryland from April 9-May 28, 2018. 

Google Arts and Culture Resources

Teaching and Learning Resources

The Bill of Rights and You

Explores how the Bill of Rights was created and what it means for us today.

Download the high-resolution posters at  www.archives.gov/amending-america/visit/bill-of-rights-pop-up.

    Prologue Articles

    Blog Posts

    James Madison papers icon graphicFounders Online website lets you read James Madison's words about the Bill of Rights.

    Amending America logo graphicLearn more about the Bill of Rights in the online exhibit Amending America: Why a Bill of Rights?
    Carting of the Charter documents imageLearn about when the Charters of Freedom went on display in 1952 on Bill of Rights Day in the online exhibit "Carting the Charters."
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