Today In History Spotlights Dec. 15, 1791, US Bill of Rights is Ratified

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Today’s History Spotlight

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The United States Bill of Rights is ratified. Authored in large part by James Madison, the Bill of Rights was drafted primarily to address objections by Anti-Federalists, who claimed that the new federal Constitution gave the central government too much power. Consisting of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights declares that these rights are natural and inalienable, meaning they are endowed by God to the individual, and the government cannot confiscate them. The amendments can best be summed up as follows:

1. Freedom of speech, religion, protest, and press.
2. Right to keep and bear firearms shall not be infringed.
3. No forced civilian housing of soldiers.
4. Freedom from unreasonable government searches or seizures.
5. Protects against double-jeopardy and self-incrimination, while guaranteeing the right of due process.
6. Right to a speedy and fair trial.
7. Right to a trial by jury in federal cases with claims of more than $20.
8. Prohibition of excessive bail or fines.
9. Declaration of fundamental rights existing outside of the Constitution.
10. All powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved to the states.

What Happened On This Day – December 15

  • 2009 Maiden flight of Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Considered to be one of Boeing’s most fuel-efficient airplanes, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has suffered from problems associated with its lithium-ion batteries.
  • 1978 US recognizes China. 30 years after the creation of the People’s Republic of China, President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would formally recognize the communist country starting January 1, 1979. The announcement also called for the severing of relations with Taiwan, a position that was quickly reversed under protests.
  • 1939 Premier of the Gone with the Wind. The award winning film was adapted from the Pulitzer winner Margaret Mitchell’s book by the same name.
  • 1933 Twenty-first Amendment to U.S. Constitution comes into effect. Ratified on December 5 of the same year, the amendment repealed the prohibition on alcohol in the United States which had come into force on January 17, 1920, when the 18th amendment took effect.
  • 1791 U.S. Bill of Rights becomes law. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States are known as the Bill of Rights. They became law after Virginia ratified the amendments.

Births On This Day – December 15

  • 1986 Junsu – South Korean singer-songwriter, actor
  • 1979 Eric Young – Canadian wrestler
  • 1928 Friedensreich Hundertwasser – Austrian/New Zealand painter, architect, designed the Kuchlbauer Tower, Waldspirale
  • 1907 Oscar Niemeyer – Brazilian architect, designed the United Nations Headquarters, Cathedral of Brasília
  • 37 Nero – Roman Emperor

Deaths On This Day – December 15

  • 2013 Harold Camping -American broadcaster, author
  • 2011 Christopher Hitchens – English/American journalist, author
  • 2010 Bob Feller – American baseball player
  • 1966 Walt Disney – American animator, director, screenwriter, producer, co-founded The Company
  • 1950 Vallabhbhai Patel – Indian activist, politician, 1st Deputy Prime Minister of India

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Garrett Smith
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