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Finding old philatelic books, articles online | Linns.com bill of rights essays The first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States which establishes basic American civil liberties that the government cannot violate is known as the Bill of Rights (Encarta pp). Ratified by the states in 1791, three years after the Constitution was ratified, the Bill of Rights originally applied only to the federal government, however, the Supreme Court, in a series of 20th century cases, decided that most of its provisions apply to the states as well (Encarta pp). Throughout the last two centuries, the Bill of Rights has been used by many countries as a model for defining civil liberties in their own constitutions (Encarta pp). Although memories of civil rights violations during the colonial period were still vivid in 1789 as George Washington was inaugurated as America's first president, the draft constitution that was submitted to the states for ratification included relatively few basic rights (Early pp). The omission of individual liberties in the proposed constitution alarmed many prominent Americans, including author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, George Mason, who refused to sign the document, as did Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts (Early pp). Thomas Jefferson, who How academics can use Twitter most effectively (essay) the United States Minister to France at the time, wrote James Madison that he was concerned about "the omission of a bill of rightsa€¦providing clearlya€¦for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, and restriction against monopolies" (Early pp). Concerned about the lack of these provisions, George Washington urged Congress in his first inaugural address to propose amendments that offered "a reverence for the characteristic rights of freeman and a regard for public harmony" (Early pp). On September 25, 1789, Congress officially proposed twelve amendments, ten of which were ratified and in 1791 Articles 3 -12 became known collectively as The Bill of Rights (.