The founders of the United States of America valued freedom and they wanted to enshrine their newly won freedoms in law. The Bill of Rights enumerated the rights and freedoms that every citizen of the United States of America.
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments of the United States Constitution. According to the National Archives, the first Congress of the United States of America proposed on Sep. 25, 1789, 12 amendments to the Constitution, which it sent to the state legislators. Of the 12 proposed amendments only 10 were accepted by the individual states.
One of the most important rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights is listed in the first amendment. The first amendment of the United States Constitution reads as follows:
"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.'
To break the first amendment down to its simplest meaning, it is the four freedoms. In this one amendment, citizens of the United States are promised freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition the government.
Two of the most important of the four freedoms are freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
According to the United States Courts, the freedom of speech part of the first amendment protects the right of Americans to do the following:
· Not to speak
· To use certain offensive words to convey political messages
· To engage in symbolic speech
Americans are also guaranteed freedom of the press. Some of the things protected by the freedom of the press are:
· Right to publish
· Right to confidentiality of sources
· Right to access to information
More information can be found at the National Archives' Charters of Freedom online exhibit.