On this day in 1791 some fine work by a couple of former denizens of the neighborhood became a part of the U.S. Constitution. Arguably among the most important laws in the history of humankind, the first 10 amendments, known in aggregate as the Bill of Rights, were ratified by Virginia 15 December 1791. As the 10th state to endorse amendments III-XII, Virginia’s ratification pushed them past the required limit of more that 3/4ths of the states.
Working from George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, to which he had contributed, and from extensive discussions during early meetings about the importance of the U.S. Constitution having provision to protect individual rights, James Madison developed these justly famous statements and his neighbor, Thomas Jefferson, advocated in favor of endorsing them. Even if these white men thought that they were taking these steps to protect themselves, the positive impact of their actions has been far wider and more substantial. So, thanks, guys.