BILL OF RIGHTS
THE FIRST 10 AMENDMENTS TO THE
AS RATIFIED BY THE STATES
Note: The following text is a transcription of the first 10 amendments
to the Constitution in their original form.
These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as
the "Bill of Rights."
THE PREAMBLE TO THE BILL OF RIGHTS
Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at
the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order
to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further
declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the
ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the
beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both
Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the
Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of
the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three
fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes,
as part of the said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the
Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and
ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth
Article of the original Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free
State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the
consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by
Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched,
and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous
crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in
cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual
service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for
the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be
compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be
deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor
shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a
speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district
wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been
previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of
the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have
compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the
Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed
twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact
tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United
States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor
cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be
construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or
to the people.