There is free­dom in com­pro­mise

The Washington Times Daily - - CELEBRATING FREEDOM - By C. Dou­glas Smith

By the clos­ing gavel of Amer­ica’s first Congress, a new rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment of the peo­ple had made the dreams of the Con­sti­tu­tion’s drafters real, en­shrin­ing the first rights of con­science, pe­ti­tion, pri­vacy and the rule of law into a Bill of Rights.

Amer­i­can law­mak­ers adopted the first 10 Amend­ments all at once, in 1791, culled from more than 200 sug­gested changes dur­ing the state rat­i­fi­ca­tion de­bates over the pre­vi­ous two years. This was Congress’ first con­tract with Amer­ica, which is to say our first con­tract with our­selves. James Madi­son took the re­spon­si­bil­ity of draft­ing the words, hav­ing al­ready taken the re­spon­si­bil­ity of as­sem­bling the pieces, and he wrote to clar­ify the peo­ple’s guar­an­teed rights and ex­plain the lim­its to the gov­ern­ment’s power, es­tab­lished for the pro­tec­tion of its cit­i­zens.

Look­ing back from to­day, it’s still a mon­u­men­tal mo­ment, as Yale’s Akhil Amar has said a “hinge-point” in hu­man his­tory, be­tween tyranny and democ­racy. But there has al­ways been a gap be­tween rights promised and rights de­liv­ered in Amer­ica. The Founders failed to con­front the in­sti­tu­tion of slav­ery. The en­fran­chise­ment of women took more than a cen­tury to get right, and even to­day we still have pay in­equal­ity. The his­tory of Na­tive Amer­i­cans is lit­tered with bro­ken con­tracts and abuses. And a

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