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Bill of Rights Day

December 15, 2020

On December 15, 1791, Virginia becomes the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights (, making the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution law and completing the revolutionary reforms begun by the Declaration of Independence. Before the Massachusetts ratifying convention would accept the Constitution, which they finally did in February 1788, the document’s Federalist supporters had to promise to create a Bill of Rights to be amended to the Constitution immediately upon the creation of a new government under the document.

The newly elected Congress drafted the Bill of Rights on December 25, 1789. Virginia’s ratification on this day in 1791 created the three-fourths majority necessary for the ten amendments to become law. Drafted by James Madison and loosely based on Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, the first ten amendments give the following rights to all United States citizens:

The Bill of Rights includes these Amendments:

  • Amendment 1 – Freedom of speech, press and religion
  • Amendment 2 – The right to bear arms
  • Amendment 3 – Protection of homeowners from quartering troops, except during war
  • Amendment 4 – Rights and protections against unreasonable search and seizure
  • Amendment 5 – Rights of due process of law, protection against double jeopardy, self incrimination
  • Amendment 6 – Rights of a speedy trial by jury of peers and rights of accused
  • Amendment 7 – Rights to trial by jury in civil cases
  • Amendment 8 – Protection from cruel and unusual punishment, excessive bail
  • Amendment 9 – Protection of rights not specified in the Bill of Rights
  • Amendment 10 – States rights, power of the states


December 15, 2020
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