The Bill of Rights Day is observed on December 15 in the United States. It’s an important day to celebrate America’s Constitution and the framework of society that ascribes rights and freedoms to society. Bill of Rights Day commemorates the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, with the National Archives documenting its many celebrations of the day. The Bill was introduced by James Madison, who later became the fourth President of the United States. Now, The Bill of Rights is displayed in The Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., as a reminder to all Americans of their constitutional freedoms.
History of Bill of Rights Day
The first amendments to the Constitution were ratified on December 15, 1791. The 10 amendments protect the most basic rights of Americans, known as the Bill of Rights. It consists of notions like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to protest, and equal protection under the law. Other amendments include the right to bear arms, protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and so forth.
Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation that dedicated December 15 as Bill of Rights Day. This was made in honor of the Constitution and to celebrate the document’s 150th anniversary. The first Bill of Rights Day took place just eight days after the Pearl Harbor attack and America’s entry into World War II.
In a historic radio address, President Roosevelt made an opening for the first Bill of Rights Day in 1941. He stated, “No date in the long history of freedom means more to liberty-loving men in all liberty-loving countries than the 15th day of December 1791.” Roosevelt also mentioned that there isn’t a country across the globe that hasn’t felt the effects of the Bill of Rights, directly or indirectly. Hitler and the Nazis in Germany were denounced during the famous speech, for taking away individual freedoms.
President Harry Truman issued another proclamation five years later in 1946 after Congress requested to observe Bill of Rights Day again. World War II had come to an end just a year before, in 1945. But it wasn’t until 1962 that President Truman proclaimed the Bill of Rights Day to be observed every year. The proclamation is usually coupled with a proclamation on Human Rights Day and Week.
In 2019, President Donald Trump proclaimed December 15 as Bill of Rights Day again. “During Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week, we celebrate the Bill of Rights for safeguarding our God-given rights and protecting us from the abuse of government power,” Trump noted. “I call upon the people of the United States to mark these observances with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
Bill of Rights Day timeline
The first amendments to the Constitution are ratified — before this, the 13 sovereign states followed the Articles of Confederation, created by the Second Continental Congress.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues a proclamation dedicating December 15 as Bill of Rights Day to celebrate the document’s 150th anniversary.
The Virginia copy of the Bill of Rights toured the country in honor of its bicentennial, visiting the capitals of all 50 states.
President Donald Trump proclaims December 15 as Bill of Rights Day again, noting that "people around the world are empowered when human rights are protected by law”.
Bill of Rights Day FAQs
What did President Truman say about the Bill of Rights?
During a ceremony that was held on December 15, 1952, Truman declared “we are assembled here on this Bill of Rights Day to do honor to the three great documents which, together, constitute the charter of our form of government.”
Why is the Bill of Rights important?
The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, and assembly, and the exercise of religion, and many more. It’s the framework of the Constitution.
What impact did the Bill of Rights have?
The Bill of Rights has proven to be one of the most influential documents in contemporary history, codifying the theory of natural rights, which holds that humans are granted certain freedoms and liberties by God and that the state should not have the power to infringe upon those rights.
How To Observe Bill of Rights Day
Display the flag of the United States
At work or at home? Going past a public building? Why not show a deeper sense of national pride today by raising the flag of the United States for everyone to see.
Quiz yourself on the Bill of Rights
How well do you know your American history? Do you know the basic facts about the Bill of Rights? Why not test yourself online. If you’re a student, you might do one at school to celebrate the day; if you’re an adult, there’s a wide array of quizzes available online that you can take. Make it fun and competitive by inviting friends and family around and test each other. It will not only be a beneficial exercise, but you might learn something new about the foundations of America!
Watch a historical video
There are a number of historical videos you can watch online that might help you make more sense of the Bill of Rights. You can see President Harry Truman and Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson speak on the importance of the document in a ceremony at the National Archives. You can watch panel discussions about the story behind the Bill of Rights, and why it matters. Visual storytelling can help us greatly in giving us a more rounded view of the topic!
5 Facts About The Bill Of Rights You Might Not Know
The Bill of Rights travels
The Bill of Rights toured the U.S. for 18 months from 1947 to 1949 on the Freedom Train.
Not all states ratified quickly
The Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791 — however, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia waited until 1939 to ratify it.
Bill of Rights on display
The Bill of Rights on display at the National Archives contains 12 proposed amendments.
Progress in the making
The original proposed Second Amendment eventually became the 27th Amendment in 1992.
The original writing
James Madison originally incorporated the amendments into the text of the Constitution rather than adding them to the end.
Why Bill of Rights Day Is Important
It reminds us of our rights
The very foundation of fundamental rights in the United States is incorporated into the Bill of Rights. Without it, we wouldn’t know what our civil liberties are. The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, which guarantee essential rights such as the right to free speech and the right to bear arms, as well as reserving rights to the people and the states. It’s important to remember today and every day.
It is the framework of the United States
The United States prides itself on civil rights and liberties — the vision of the Founding Fathers. Can you imagine our country without the Bill of Rights? Without it, the entire Constitution would fall apart. Since it’s the framework of the government, the original image of America’s freedoms would stray without the Bill of Rights. After all, it protects the rights of all citizens of the United States.
It’s simply about human rights
The Bill of Rights incorporates the basic rights every human being should have. Forget about nations and borders, essentially, the Constitution is simply about rights for human beings in general. They are rights that should be inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Fundamental human rights include things like the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. This is the framework of the Bill of Rights and the very basics of what we should be granted as human beings.
Bill of Rights Day dates