Celebrating the Constitution
The Bill of Rights 1791
I 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.
II 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.
III 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.
IV 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.
V 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.
VI 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 defense.
VII In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed $20, 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 common law.
VIII Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines Imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
IX The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
X 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.
Dates to Remember
September 3, 1783
The United States and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Paris and Great Britain signs a separate treaty with France and Spain.
December 23, 1783
General George Washington resigns his commission as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.
January 14, 1784
The official end of the Revolutionary War takes place when Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris.
May 25, 1787
The Constitutional Convention opens with a quorum of seven states in Philadelphia to discuss revising the Articles of Confederation. Eventually, all states but Rhode Island are represented.
July 13, 1787
Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance which sets up a process by which a territory becomes a state. The ordinance also calls for the banning of slavery in the Northwest Territory.
September 17, 1787
All 12 state delegations approve the Constitution, 39 delegates sign it of the 42 present, and the Convention formally adjourns.
October 27, 1787
A series of articles in support of the ratification are published in New York’s “The Independent Journal.” They become known as the "Federalist Papers.”
December 7, 1787
Delaware is the first state to ratify the Constitution.
June 21, 1788
The Constitution becomes effective for the ratifying states when new Hampshire is the ninth state to ratify it.
February 4, 1789
The first presidential election takes place but the results will not be known until April 6.
March 4, 1789
The first Congress under the Constitution convenes in New York City.
April 1, 1789
Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg from Pennsylvania is chosen as the first Speaker of House.
April 6, 1789
George Washington is elected the first President of the United States under the Constitution with 69 electoral votes. John Adams is elected Vice President with 34 votes.
April 30, 1789
George Washington is inaugurated as the first President of the United States.
June 8, 1789
James Madison introduces the proposed Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives.
July 27, 1789
Congress organizes the first executive department and names it the Department of State on September 15.
August 7, 1789
Congress organizes the War Department.
September 2, 1789
Congress organizes the Treasury Department.
September 11, 1789
Alexander Hamilton is appointed Secretary of the Treasury.
September 24, 1789
Congress establishes a Supreme Court, 13 district courts, 3 ad hoc circuit courts, and the position of Attorney General.
September 25, 1789
Congress approves 12 amendments and sends them to the states for ratification.
September 26, 1789
Edmund Randolph is appointed Attorney General, John Jay as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State.
November 20, 1789
New Jersey is the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
February 2, 1790
The Supreme Court convenes for the first time.
May 29, 1790
Rhode Island is the last state to ratify the Constitution.
December 6, 1790
The capital of the country “moves” from New York to Philadelphia until the new capital along the Potomac is completed.
March 4, 1791
Vermont becomes a part of the Union as the 14th state.
December 15, 1791
Virginia ratifies the Bill of Rights, and 10 of the 12 proposed amendments become part of the U.S. Constitution.