Securing the People’s Liberties: George Mason,
James Madison, and the Idea of a Bill of Rights
The lecture is free and open to the public
When George Mason wrote one of the first Anti-Federalist
attacks on the U.S. Constitution, he began his list of grievances
with the complaint, “There is no Declaration of Rights.” As the primary author of Virginia’s
landmark bill of rights, Mason commanded considerable credibility, and the Constitution’s
failure to guarantee certain fundamental liberties became its most vulnerable point. The
Constitution nevertheless won ratification, but opposition to the new government lingered.
To reassure skeptics, James Madison introduced in the first Congress amendments that
eventually became the Bill of Rights. This lecture will explore how the idea for a bill of
rights evolved from a political statement of broad republican principles to a specific set of
judicially enforceable personal freedoms.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Fenwick Library, Main Reading Room
George Mason University