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
Events

Bill of Rights Events

 
Accordion

Historical Video 

The video at this link 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 on December 13, 1952. Two days later, on Bill of Rights Day, President Harry Truman and Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson speak on the importance of the document in a ceremony at the National Archives.


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.

Find more videos relating to the Bill of Rights on our YouTube channel.

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.

    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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