The First, First Amendment

The Constitution of the United States as first written did not have what we now call the Bill of Rights. Thankfully we had enough delegates who were wary of governmental power and the bill of rights was created.

Recently I found a scan of the first draft of the Bill of Rights and it’s rather interesting. This was the document proposed on March 4th 1789, three years before the current Bill of Rights was ratified. There were twelve proposed articles (amendments) in my opinion it’s too bad they didn’t adopt these twelve points as written.

History might have been rewritten and some of our common sayings would have ended up differently. Pleading the fifth would be something you did to kick illegally quartered soldiers our of your house.

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Since at this resolution the words are hard to read I took the liberty of transcribing the document.

Article the first. …. After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

Notice it wasn’t the first amendment as we know it today; the first proposed amendment was a tweak to the number of Representatives in congress, making the number of Representatives stair step. Currently there are 435 Representatives or one per 600,000 people give or take a few thousand.

Article the second… No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Does this one sound familiar? Let’s look at the last Amendment to be passed, the 27th.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Hey wait a minute? Wasn’t the 27th passed in 1992? Over two hundred and two years later than when this amendment was first proposed! How many fewer congressional pay raises might there have been in two hundred and two years?

Article the third…… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This article is first Amendment verbatim. Interesting that it’s behind the proposed amendment to keep congress from voting themselves pay raises. Maybe they saw a political class that could vote themselves more riches from the treasury as an affront to liberty?

So if this was the bill of rights people would create third amendment groups. And be demanding third amendment protection.

Article the fourth….. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

This is the second amendment also verbatim. What I find interesting is that the founders put the second amendment right behind the first. The same is here in this first draft. Without the second amendment or the right of the people to keep and bear Arms there cannot be a first amendment. Free men are armed. Unarmed men are subjects. If this draft had passed people would celebrate their fourth amendment rights by buying a firearm.

Article the fifth……. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

This is the same as the third amendment. The government shall not make our homes a barracks! Private property rights are a good thing.

Article the sixth…… The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Here’s the fourth. A direct attempt to keep the government from being able to send Jack Booted Thugs (JBT)’s to your house without good reason. Some might argue that the over militarization of our police forces (SWAT) is coming in conflict with this amendment.

Article the seventh… No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

This amendment was designed to keep the courts honest. If this version of the bill of rights had passed people in court would say, “I plead the seventh.”

Article the eighth… In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

This is the sixth. Here we have more keeping the courts honest. Which is interesting to me that the founders thought it so important to have so many amendments on judicial proceedings. I believe it’s because they are where the rubber hits the road when the law and people mix. If a law is good but it isn’t upheld in a court of law what good is it really?

Article the ninth.. In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Trial by jury in civil cases… seventh amendment, keep too much power out of the hands of judges.

Article the tenth….. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

This is the eighth. One thing about this amendment that bothers me currently is that what the founders considered cruel and unusual must have been different than what some bleeding hearts do today. Punishment should be uncomfortable so criminals don’t want to go back to jail.

Article the eleventh…. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This is the same as the ninth. This and the next amendment are in my humble opinion the amendments that the fed steps on more than any others. This is basically an “all rights reserved” statement. We the people reserve the right to keep the rest of our rights. Even ones that aren’t spelled out. Some people believe our rights are granted by the Constitution. But they are only recognized by this document. This is important, especially since the Constitution can be changed. In my humble opinion if the second was repealed tomorrow we would still have the right to keep and bear arms, because that right is given to us by our creator, not by the government. The same goes for the rest of the amendments.

Article the twelfth.. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

And here we have the tenth. I believe the founders knew the government would still try and grab as much power as possible despite the ninth amendment. They were fearful of a powerful government. Are we?

Should we trust our government? The government that every year seems to ignore the words written on these pieces of parchment. The power comes from the people to the government not the other way around. But the fools in Washington seem to act otherwise. I hope that our constitution can survive for another two hundred years but I don’t see how it can with the government running amok.

Let me say for the blind supporters of the current administration, the problems we are facing now are not limited to the actions of the Democrats. The Republicans have stepped on the Constitution almost as often as their associates on the other side of the aisle.

I fear the leaves on the Tree of Liberty have become wilted. I hope we do not need to water it yet but unfortunately that day may come sooner than we think.

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One Response to The First, First Amendment

  1. Aglifter says:

    TMK, the colonies eliminated most of the “cruel” punishments of the kings. There were still executions, but a properly done hanging was considered humane – still is, but horrific if done improperly.

    That any convict could expect his punishment to include rape, and possible death from AIDS, etc, would revolt them.

    They certainly wouldn’t have had a problem w. chain gangs, etc.

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