If you found yourself in a new land. . .
If you found yourself in a new land where all the past was lost and it was necessary to start all over again in establishing and protecting the rights and freedoms of men and women under a constitutional government, and if you had been far-thinking enough to have brought with you a slim volume, just 26 small (3 by 5 inch) pages containing the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, you would be well on your way to establishing the freedoms and representative government that create happiness and peace, creativity and prosperity – if only your people knew the difference between right and wrong and would die to defend their constitution.
Many people are unaware that most of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the US Bill of Rights were fought for first by British men and women, and enshrined in the British Constitution. When they began their revolution, British subjects in America fought for their rights as “trueborn Englishmen”. In 1791, after they had won their freedom from the British Crown and had established the US Constitution, they amended it with the ten amendments called the Bill of Rights, and established the liberties that would prove essential to the happiness, self-determination, and success of free men and women.
In the text of the US Bill of Rights that you see below we show the rights and freedoms previously established in the British Constitution in italics. (They are not verbatim, but they can be found in Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Declaration of Right, and the British Bill of Rights.) The American Bill of Rights also included several additional vital protections. So, in italics, the British rights and freedoms fought for over a thousand years and incorporated in the US Bill of Rights -
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 infringed.
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 by law.
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 re-examined 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.
In summary, the US Constitution and Bill of Rights were written by former British subjects well-acquainted with British constitutional law who saw themselves as self-governing people. They remembered and treasured their inheritance.