What rights did they believe God had given people?
They believed that the rights established in the Declaration of Independence were high level statements. God had given everyone the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” How could citizens be guaranteed the opportunity to exercise those rights if the new federal government were not restrained by the Constitution? This is the reason that, during ratification, the states exacted some promises that the first session of Congress would fulfill.
The states wanted some specific protections that would secure the rights to life and liberty and assure that the pursuit of happiness would not be hindered. They wanted written assurance that the federal government would never bulldoze their God-given rights under the guise of protecting them.
citizens wanted written protection for the integrity of the news.
- In some governments around the world even in 1789, there were laws that forbade anyone to badmouth the king or insult the prophet Mohammed. Citizens wanted the freedom to express their opinions of the government, and opinions of anything else whatsoever, without fear of losing their heads.
- Most countries in 1789 had state religions, and where there was a state religion, everyone paid taxes to support it, everyone could be summoned to worship the state god, and so forth. People who worshiped some other god could be fined, imprisoned, or even executed.
- Around the world still today, there are countries where the press is controlled by the government. In the US, it sometimes feels as if someone is pulling strings behind the scenes, but the early citizens did not want that. They wanted the press to be vigilant and truthful about everything. They wanted the press to speak inconvenient truth. They wanted the electorate to have the truth before elections. Nothing in the Constitution authorized the federal government to manage, control, or suppress the press, but those early citizens wanted written protection for the integrity of the news.
- The government had no constitutional power to prevent people from assembling to voice their grievances, but early citizens wanted their liberty to do so documented in writing. In the document that set boundaries for the federal government the citizens wanted a statement that prevented the federal government from interfering with the liberty for people to assemble in groups and speak or act in opposition to government policies.
- Just as the people felt that God had given humans the right to speak and pray and assemble without interference, they also felt that God had given people the right to protect themselves. They were not trying to create a political platform when they asked for the right to bear arms. They were trying to prevent a political platform from crushing the people.