National Archives Museum Presents 1789 Senate Mark-up of the Bill of Rights
August 12, 2014
The National Archives Museum announces that the Senate’s 1789 draft of the Bill of Rights will be on display from today, August 12 through September 10. In the summer of 1789, 225 years ago, the Senate took its quill pen to 17 constitutional amendments proposed by the House of Representatives. The Senate’s handwritten notes and deletions reflect the hot debates that took place over a variety of issues, including freedom of religion and the right to bear arms. Congress ultimately agreed on 12 amendments; ten amendments were ratified by the states and became part of the U.S. Constitution as the Bill of Rights in 1791. This historic document can be seen in the museum’s “Featured Document” exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery August 12 through September 10.
The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Document” exhibit is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generous support of Toyota.
On June 8, 1789, Representative James Madison of Virginia introduced a series of proposed amendments to the newly ratified U.S. Constitution. That summer the House of Representatives debated Madison’s proposal, and on August 24 the House passed 17 amendments to be added to the Constitution. Those 17 amendments were then sent to the Senate.
From September 2 to September 9, the debate continued in the Senate where the amendments were further revised and recast. The document on display in the National Archives Museum shows many of the Senate’s handwritten changes to the House-passed articles of amendments. After further debate and additional votes, Congress passed 12 amendments that were sent to the states for approval. Ten of the amendments were ratified by the required three-fourths of the states and became part of the Constitution in 1791. These first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights.
More information about the exhibited records’ history and free access to high resolution images are available through the National Archives website.
The National Archives Museum is located on the National Mall on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Metro accessible on Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., daily. Free admission. Additional information on exhibits and programs at the National Archives Museum can be found online.
Following the Senate Revisions to the Bill of Rights, the museum plans to display documents and an artifact commemorating the 1814 burning of Washington and attack on Baltimore and Fort McHenry. During the War of 1812, British forces occupied Washington, burning the White House and other government buildings. Just weeks later the Americans held off the British at the Battle of Baltimore including a 25 hour bombardment of Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” 200 years ago. (September 11 – November 3)