BILLS, QUILLS AND STILLS:

AN ANNOTATED, ILLUSTRATED, AND ILLUMINATED HISTORY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS

Editions - Hardbound or Softbound?

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Prequel

 bill of rights

Prequel and Preamble: Did They Forget to Pay the Bill? 

… 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 …

From the Preamble to the Bill of Rights

 

Chapter 1: Of Dogma and Desire: Saying What You Believe About the First Amendment

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. 

The First Amendment

 

 Harry

 Chapter 2: Shooting Your Mouth Off About the Second Amendment

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.


The Second Amendment

 

 Chapter 3

 Chapter 3: The Third Amendment: Don’t Count It Out Yet!

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 Third Amendment

 Chapter 4

 Chapter 4: Molasses and the Sticky Origins of the Fourth Amendment

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.


UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION Amendment IV.

 chapter 5

Chapter 5: From Testicles to Dragnet: How the Fifth Amendment Protects All of Us

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 offense 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.


Amendment V

 Perry Mason

Chapter 6: How the Sixth Amendment Guarantees You a Court, a Lawyer, and a Chamber Pot

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 defense.


Amendment VI

 chapter 7

Chapter 7: Trial by Jury . . . or by God!

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. Amendment VII
***
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 … Amendment VI
***
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
Amendment V
***
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury, and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed, but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.


Article III, Section 2

 Elvis presley

 Chapter 8: “Baby Don’t Be Cruel”: What’s So Cruel and Unusual About The Eight Amendment?

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


The Eighth Amendment

 chapter nine

Chapter 9: The Ninth Amendment: Still a Mystery after all These Years

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


The Ninth Amendment

 chapter 10

Chapter 10: “Are you talkin’ to me?” -- Just Who are Those “People” in the Tenth Amendment?

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.


The Tenth Amendment

 Epilogue

 Epilogue: How We Ponied-Up to Pay the Bill

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


The Thirteenth Amendment

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.


Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation


The Fifteenth Amendment

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.   Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed….
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


The Fourteenth Amendment

Introduction (if you like history):

“To not know the events that happened before one’s birth is to remain always a child.”

Cicero wrote that - people who like history read it and say “ah” (If you didn’t say “ah”, you may want to go to the next column).
“Originalism” is the rage! It says you must read the Constitution and Bill of Rights as the Framers would have read them (o.k., that’s a little simplified but this is an Introduction). With this in mind, this book takes the history of the Bill of Rights from as far back as I could find up to around 1791 - the history the Framers knew.
As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote,
“A page of history is worth a volume of logic.”
New York Trust Co. v. Eisner, 256 U.S. 345, 349 (1921). Writing clever stuff like that is why he got his own postage stamp.
Some of the history I present is well known, some used to be well known, and the rest is not well known but should be. As Justice Luis Brandeis observed,

“[t]he greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting). Brandeis is as pertinent as ever.
Or as Samuel Beckett’s characters say in WAITING FOR GODOT, Act I (1954),
Estrgon: “We've lost our rights?”
Vladimir: “We got rid of them.” Getting “rid” of rights is all too easy when we don’t know where they came from or what they are. Avoiding such a loss is the point of this book.


 

Introduction (if you “don’t like history”):

“History is just gossip about dead people!”

People who say they don’t like history often like gossip. (Hell, who doesn’t?). Gossip is just history, so this book is for you, too! In fact, if you want to look smarty, you can throw out my quote at a party or bar. I did a Google search to make sure I hadn’t accidently ripped it off from somewhere and came up with this nice one from Oscar Wilde:
"History is merely gossip. But scandal is gossip made tedious by morality."
This was from his play Lady Windermere's Fan: A Play About a Good Woman (1892), which is about people not having sex with their spouses.
With this in mind, I make you a pitch:
History is not boring. Boring history teachers are boring!
This is an original quote, too (I think). But it calls to mind that I don’t want this book to be like the history teacher (Ben Stein) in FERRIS BUELLER’ DAY OFF (Paramount Pictures 1986). I promise, I will not call out to a comatose class,
“Anyone?, Anyone?”

What I present in this book is a lot of what “they” don’t bother to teach you in school – the juicy stuff! So, how about taking a chance and buying this book (which could help me send my kids to trade school)? 

Then take an even bigger chance and read it to see why the Bill of Rights is worth the effort.


 

A little note on how to read this book: 1

So you have read this far!

First, thank you.

Second, don’t get bogged down with my notes. They are supposed to be fun, so enjoy! You can read the text or just the notes or all together. Also, I have enough references to satisfy any academic snob. If you want to learn more you can look them up. Otherwise just ignore that stuff.

Finally, read the book as a whole or each chapter on its own. Life is busy so it’s your call!


1. To Read - Unlike most western languages our word “read” does not come from the Latin legere (leggere in Italian, lire in French, leer in Spanish and lesen in German). We do, however, get our words “ligature” (to bind) and “legal” (to socially bind) from the Latin, which in other western languages gives the sense that what we read binds us. Read comes from the Old English verb rǣdan, "to advise, interpret (something difficult), interpret (something written), read." WEBSTER’S NEW INT’L DICTIONARY 2071 (2d ed. 1942).

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