Chris Bliss, the man behind the Bill Of Rights Monument Project, on the genesis of the most important document in human history, ratified on this day in 1791:
The history of the document since then has been a stunning success. In a testament to the power of its ideas, the visionary principles embodied in the Bill of Rights that were considered radical by most of the outside world at the time – freedom of expression and belief, the presumption of innocence, due process and equality under the law – are today lauded as universal human rights.
The expanding reach of these principles in our own country has been no less breathtaking. When the Bill of Rights was ratified its provisions only fully applied to 5% of the people living here. They didn’t apply to slaves, native Americans, women, or white men of less than a certain means or property.
But the amendments themselves do not contain a single exclusionary clause. So as our understanding of freedom grew from the experience of it, along with the wrenching tragedy of a civil war, the Bill of Rights remained a clear beacon illuminating the path forward. Today virtually all Americans expect that these rights and freedoms belong to all equally.