Following ratification by the state of Virginia, The Bill of Rights became law on December 15, 1791. Comprised of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, they were written by James Madison in response to requests from several states for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties. The First Amendment 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."
Learn about the long history of dissent in America by checking out some of the following resources available in the Library's collection.