The First Amendment: From Start To Finish High School And Literature Essay

3873 words - 16 pages

Henderson 2
The First Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1791 in order to provide Americans with basic rights they demanded. It is the first section of the bill of rights and arguably the most important. This amendment guarantees freedom of speech, religion and press. Due to the first amendment, we Americans are able to express ourselves in ways that wouldn’t be allowed. This is something we are lucky to have as many countries do not have this opportunity.
When the original constitution was created, the 1st amendment was not included. After four years of not having civil freedoms and rights, the framers knew something needed to change. 90 members helped devise the 1st amendment which was added on December 15, 1791.[footnoteRef:1] The 1st amendment came from a bill written in 1777 by Thomas Jefferson. He proposed this to the Virginia legislature to guarantee the right of religion to all citizens. The 1st amendment includes the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and the press, and freedom of assembly and petition. [1: “Amendment I Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition. “National Constitution Center. Marci A. Hamilton, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2003.]
The founder’s intent of the 1st amendment was to protect the states from the federal government.[footnoteRef:2] It specifically states that Congress cannot touch the state’s rights. Although they were trusting in the system, they knew it would have its flaws. Times of panic and hostility are when the government needs to step in and take action. The founders saw what was going on in European countries at the time and were able to learn from them in regards to civil liberties. After all, the pilgrims left England in search of religious freedom. They wanted to find a new hope and way of life. [2: “First Amendment Legal Definition of First Amendment.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Web. 19 May. 2007.]
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”[footnoteRef:3] We need to pay attention to the word “respecting” because this stops congress from establishing a religion or doing away with one. Many of the framers were opposed to an establishment of the church because that was a violation of civil rights. The religious problems were not happening on a federal level but rather a local level. The people were being judged and discriminated based off of religion and race. This amendment basically put a layer of protection over these people and made it illegal to discriminate. [3: @brinstitute. “Bill of Rights- Bill of Rights Institute.” Bill of Rights Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan 2010.]
In 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut.[footnoteRef:4] Jefferson was in France at the time. Ironically, Jefferson didn’t write any of the amendments although many of his ideas were included in them. The Baptists were starting to believe that the government was treating...

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