Text of the Bill of Rights
THE PREAMBLE TO THE BILL OF RIGHTS
Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their
adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or
abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And
as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the
beneficent ends of its institution.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in
Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be
proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as amendments to the Constitution of
the United States, all, or any of which articles, when ratified by three fourths of the
said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said
Articles in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of
America, proposed by Congress and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States,
pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
THE FIRST 10 AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION AS RATIFIED BY THE STATES
Note: The following text is a transcription of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution
in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is
known as the "Bill of Rights."
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
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of
the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the
Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall
issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly
describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a
presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval
forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor
shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or
limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be
deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private
property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public
trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been
committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses
against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have
the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the
right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise
reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or
disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to
the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.