Press/Journalists
Press Release
October 30, 1997
National Archives Commemorates Bill of Rights Anniversary

In December, the National Archives and Records Administration commemorates the 206th anniversary of the ratification of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as The Bill of Rights, with two lectures and a video presentation. These programs which are free and open to the public will take place in the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. The National Archives permanently displays the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in the Rotunda, seven days a week, 10 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.

For updated information on National Archives public programs and events, the public may call (202) 501-5000. The hearing impaired should call TDD (202) 501-5404.

PROGRAMS:
Tuesday, December 9, 1997. Stephen A. Janger, president and founder of the Close Up foundation, the nationís largest civic education organization, will introduce the video "Profiles of Freedom: A Living Bill of Rights." (28 minutes.) Following the video, Mr. Janger will lead a discussion on constitutional rights. Special guests will include Mary Beth Tinker who was suspended from school for wearing a black armband to protest the Vietnam war. The controversy was eventually decided in the Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) which stated that students do "not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Noon. Theater.

Tuesday, December 16, 1997. Congressman Bob Livingston, (R-LA), who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will lecture on "The Bill of Rights: Freedomís Roadmap." Prior to the lecture, Congressman Livingston, who is an avid genealogist and who has traced his ancestors back to the signers of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution, will give a brief description of his family roots. Noon. Room 105.

BACKGROUND: Even before the constitution was adopted, delegates to the constitutional convention in Philadelphia repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered. On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States therefore proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that met arguments most frequently advanced against it. The first two proposed amendments, which concerned the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen, were not ratified. Articles 3 to 12, however, ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution. On December 15, 1791, three-fourths of the states ratified ten of the proposed twelve amendments to the Constitution.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or e-mail public.affairs@nara.gov.

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