American colonists spent 12 years fighting for their rights against parliamentary taxes and other measures before declaring independence in 1776. American citizens then spent another 12 years experimenting with governments, at both the state and national levels, that could govern effectively and yet protect people’s rights, before ratifying the federal Constitution in 1788. But that ratification was not the end of the American Revolution, as many considered the Constitution that was drafted in 1787 and came into effect in 1789 to be incomplete, lacking as it did a bill of rights that would protect the people against further abuses by their governments. Many states had included a bill of rights in their constitutions, and even the British had adopted a bill of rights during the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89.
On 12 September 1787, 5 days before the end of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason of Virginia, seconded by Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, proposed that a bill of rights be added to the Constitution to protect the rights of individuals and states. Roger Sherman noted that states already had bills of rights and the motion was defeated by a unanimous vote of state delegations.
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