Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/Individual Rights

Advertisement


Question
Discuss the historic context that gave birth to the concern for the individual rights embodied in the United States Constitution.

Answer
The Bill of Rights and other protections in the original Constitution come directly from the experience of people living in the period leading up to and during the American Revolution.  

Most of the protections listed are rights that were violated by the British during the Revolution.  For example, First Amendment's right of free speech and the right to petition government were rejected by Parliament.  The Second Amendment's right to bear arms was trampled when British soldiers tried to seize the weapons of citizens in Massachusetts, leading to the battles of Lexington and Concord.  The Third Amendment's right not to have soldiers housed in people homes was a reaction to that practice during the British Army's occupation of cities during the war.  The Fourth Amendment's protection from unreasonable searches and seizures was in reaction to British policies that allowed searching private warehouses and other property for smuggled goods, even when there was no direct evidence that such goods might be there.

I could give other examples but the basic idea is that Americans has basic ideas about certain protections for individuals against government encroachment.  The British often violated these protections in the period leading up to war and during the war.  When it came time to create a new Constitution, people wanted to make sure those rights would be clearly listed and protected in the new document.

- Mike  

Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Michael Troy

Expertise

I can answer just about any question about U.S. Political history, Constitutional law, the legislative process, elections, etc. I enjoy Presidential and Congressional historical trivia, but can answer more substantive questions too.

Experience

Former Staff member for a Congressman and Senator. I also worked on about 10 Congressional and Presidential campaigns (only one that won). For a short time, I worked in the legal department of the Federal Election Commission.    I have a B.A. in Political Science.

Organizations
Former LBJ Fellow (paid fellowship for Congressional Staff).
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honorary Society).

Publications
Washington Post
Washington Times

Education/Credentials
J.D. University of Michigan
B.A. George Washington University (Poli. Sci. major).

Awards and Honors
LBJ Fellow
Truman Scholar

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.