Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bill of Rights Day

The Law Office of Keith R. Taylor Celebrates the 220th Anniversary of the
Adoption of the Bill of Rights into the United States Constitution  

On December 15, 1971, exactly 220 years ago today, history changed forever. The tenth state, Virginia, ratified the Bill of Rights making it part of our Constitution. This historic moment saved a new and fragile United States of America from an inevitable collapse of the ongoing negotiations between the states about the new Constitution following the failure of the Articles of Confederation.

Even today, the Bill of Rights remains the heartbeat that holds America up as a pillar of inspiration for liberty-seekers around the world. Its balance of political principles and personal freedoms has endured the changes that history has brought to our nation and has proven the Bill of Rights to be one of the most important documents for establishing global human rights.

The power of the document is even more amazing when you consider, as Chris Bills, Executive Director of points out, that it only applied to about 5% of Americans in 1791. Since it didn’t apply to slaves or Native Americans or, in large part, to women, that really only left white men with enough property and position. But because the language of the Bill of Rights itself was not limited to a certain type, color, or class, it was able to evolve as our national concept of liberty evolved through the years. When we came through the tragedy of the civil war, we had the Bill of Rights as a blueprint for our future and, today, it is universally accepted that the freedoms in the Bill of Rights belong to us all as Americans.

While in today’s politics, “compromise” seems to be a nasty word, it is easy to forget that the Bill of Rights was the product of such tremendous compromise that it saved the fate of our nation. When the Federalists sat down with the Anti-Federalists and came to a compromise, it was not because they lacked conviction, but because they respected the knowledge of others and knew the limitation of their own.

Our founders knew that a lack of compromise was a road to tyranny and that concentrations of power would be had at the expense of personal liberty. It was on this basis that they established a system of checks and balances, focused on the liberty of each individual. America is the first nation in history that was founded on such a set of principles. Our greatest achievements as a nation can be traced to the times we fought to defend these principles and our worst failures when we abandoned them. At we sit at a crossroads in our nation with a difficult path ahead, there could be no better time to revisit the principles of our Bill of Rights and look to it for inspiration.

Unfortunately, on a day memorializing one of the most important moments of our collective national history, very few are celebrating. The Bill of Rights is barely taught in our schools and is largely ignored in the public sphere. It seems more widely known that December 15th is National Cupcake Day. It is our hope that you will take a moment today to consider the Bill of Rights and the tremendous impact it has had on our nation. Think about the principles it embodies and how we can embrace them today to move forward through a difficult time in our nation. Read the Bill of Rights, talk to your kids about what it means, and appreciate what a blessing it is to be an American.

Of course, you could also eat a cupcake.