Five Things Were Deleted from the Original Bill of Rights

bill of rightsBy Dr. Sinclair Grey III

History is more than a textbook. It’s more than surfing social media sited on the Internet. History is about looking into records that were recorded in the past, oral traditions passed down by elders, and discovering information that’s not readily accessible to the general public.

When you want to understand American history, you need to be aware of items deleted from general conversation. Let’s explore the five items Congress deleted from Madison’s Original Bills of Rights.

The first thing you need to know when James Madison spoke to the First Congress was that he proposed 20 amendments for a Bill of Rights, not the 10 we know today.

When Madison proposed 20 amendments only 12 of those amendments survived the congressional approval process. “Enough of the states approved 10 of the 12 amendments so that the Bill of Rights could be ratified on December 15, 1791.” (The Bill of Rights is the collective for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution) “One of two bypassed amendments was eventually ratified in 1992 as the 27th Amendment; it restricted the ability of Congress to change its pay while in session. (The other proposed amendment dealt with the number of representatives in Congress, based on the 1789 population.)”

Read Madison’s original proposed Bill of Rights

Madison tried to persuade fellow members to have a two-part Preamble that included part of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

On June 8, 1789, Madison reiterated the following to Congress about having a pre-Preamble to the Preamble,

“First. That there be prefixed to the Constitution a declaration, that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people.

That Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”

In a real sense, Madison wanted to bury the phrase that all of us know too well – ‘We the People,’ in the middle of the Preamble.

According to Roger Sherman of Connecticut, ‘the words ‘We the People’ in the original Constitution are as copious and expressive as possible,” In time, Congress deleted the entire pre-Preamble.

Madison wanted to make sure that three liberties that were in the Bill of Rights would be applied to all states. In the fifth part of his original Bill of Rights proposed, Madison penned the words ‘no state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.’ It wasn’t until the Supreme Court in the early 20th century that the selective incorporation of parts of the Bill of Rights happened. This was done as the Court interpreted the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause in a series of cases.

“Madison also wanted to clearly spell out that each branch of government had clear, distinct roles. The powers delegated by this Constitution are appropriated to the departments to which they are respectively distributed: so that the Legislative Department shall never exercise the powers vested in the Executive or Judicial, nor the Executive exercise the powers vested in the Legislative or Judicial, nor the Judicial exercise the powers vested in the Legislative or Executive Departments” Madison felt strongly about this that he wanted it as the new ‘Article VII’ in the Constitution.”

The second part of the new “Article VII” survived the Bill of Rights, It read, “The powers not delegated by this Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively.”

Here’s something that many people may not be aware of. The second amendment, according to Madison read as follows, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

Finally, Madison wanted the entire Bill of Rights interwoven into the Constitution. Obviously, this didn’t work.

Many of Madison’s ideas introduced in June 1789 made it into the ratified version of the Bill of Rights.

In his address to Congress, Madison stated, “I think we should obtain the confidence of our fellow citizens, in proportion as we fortify the rights of the people against the encroachments of the government,”

There you have it – your history lesson for the day. When you continue to explore history, you never know what you’ll find.

Source:, National Constitution Center, Wikipedia, and


Dr. Sinclair Grey III is an inspirational speaker, motivator, author, organizer and liberator of persons from all intellectual, social and cultural walks of life. He is a committed advocate for communal change. Email: Follow on Twitter @drsinclairgrey

8 Responses to Five Things Were Deleted from the Original Bill of Rights

  1. I like this idea of a conservative opinion for a change.

  2. We all learned some US history in school. It would be good if we all continued to learn about how we became a country, because what I understand as an adult is very different than what I could understand as a child. A lot of people talk about “constitutional rights,” but very few people take much of an interest in the subject unless they think a particular right that is near and dear to them is being infringed. Thomas Jefferson apparently felt the Constitution should be completely revised every 19 years (each generation). Can you imagine? It is a timeless document at its core, but every generation should interpret for the current times, taking great care not to be faddish in our interpretation. A particularly good idea in 1791 might not be such a good idea 200+ years later.

  3. Civics was compulsory in the curriculum, but common sense has yet to be incorporated at any level of organized learning, and stupidity reigns supreme! The Bill of Rights, The Preamble and the Constitution should be understandable by all who live under its authority, but no individual is empowered to interpret laws and statutes supported by these governing documents. This is the conundrum we face in a post-racial world. Exclusive white male draconian measures of the ‘founding fathers’ proved antiquated for the modern era of all ‘free people’, and the Supreme Court of the early 20th century opted for “…selective incorporation…” and “…interpreted the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause in a series of cases.”
    We have not had a competent interpreter of U.S Constitutional Law since Barbara Jordan, but thank God We have a President in office who clearly understands the law and governs accordingly. Until President Obama can dismantle the ambiguities of legalese and centuries of cronyism and abuse of power, can we begin to establish parity in liberty and freedom of all people, by the people, and for all people.

  4. Father Divine explains GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED BY RIGHTEOUSNESS as follows (Full text of HIS talk is available at):

    “Would you not rather have a government, not only a city government or a state government, but would you not rather haves a Federal government controlled by Righteousness or someone who represents Righteousness, Truth and Justice in its entirety, than to have it controlled by the war dictators, or have a government controlled by prejudice, malice, maliciousness and destruction: in other words, by destructive minds that are always willing and ready to destroy?

    “Would you not rather have a government that is controlled by a Principle, by a Standard that will give equity and a square deal; in other words, that will judge the people with equity, and will give an equitable adjustment and deal justly between man and man, and will bring an abolition to all division, to all segregation and all discrimination, and give every person a square deal? 

    “I know you would rather have, not only a national government as such, than to have one controlled by prejudice, segregation, discrimination and all sorts of races, creeds and colors uppermostly in the consciousness of the executives.  I know you would rather have a government that will live for the people and by the people and through the people for the common good of all humanity!

    “How glorious it is to live in such a recognition, where GOD is on earth among this people!  Hence, with or without a BODY, it is absolutely immaterial to ME; My Version shall go forth conquering and to conquering and shall be reckoned in all government, with or without MY BODY.  I AM not representing MY BODY.”

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