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Puritans When the English came to America to escape
religious persecution, things commenced at a shaky start.
For example, Puritans fled from England because of
religious persecution. They were being physically beaten
because of their religious beliefs therefore they attempted
to create a Utopia or "City upon a hill" in the New World.
There "City upon a hill" began with a government based on
religious beliefs. It developed into a government which
condemned those who did not believe in the Puritan beliefs.
For example, one had to believe in the Puritan religion and
attend church to vote and become a member of the Puritan
society. This practice further developed into a situation
in which you were beaten or killed if you did not believe
in the Puritan religion and remained in Puritan "Utopia" --
the exact situation which they had fled from England.
Later, it would take the gathering of American thinkers to
deduce what liberties were guaranteed and which were not,
to avoid mistakes made by puritans and others in history.
The Forefathers of the United States conjured up the Bill
of Rights which illustrated which rights were endowed to
the people of the United States. They adopted the Bill of
rights, which was drafted for political motivations, and it
evolved into a document which shelters American people's
civil liberties. When the Bill of Rights was adopted,
political motivations superceded libertarian views. James
Madison claimed that this "nauseous project of amendments"
would "kill the opposition[for the ratification of the
constitution] everywhere..." In the beginning, the Bill of
Rights was first drafted up to appease the Anti-Federalists
and coax them into ratifying the constitution. For without
the Bill of Rights the constitution may have never been
ratified. After its ratification, the Bill of Rights
evolved into more realistic terms. The Federalists began to
notice the importance of the Bill of Rights as much as the
AntiÄ Federalists had. During the next few years the Bill
of Rights began to be accepted by the American people as
the essence towards freedom. As it was noticed more and
more over the years, the Bill of Rights became the basis
for individual rights. It entitled the American people to
rights which they had not experienced before such as the
freedom of press and speech. In Tennessee's "Monkey Trial"
of 1925, John Scope, a science teacher, was convicted for
teaching evolution. Only 43 years later would that state
law be overturned. This constant evolution of the Bill of
Rights has made it what it is today, a document claiming
that the American people have certain 'unalienable' rights.
In 1868, the 14th Amendment was drafted to insure that
peoples rights towards life, liberty, and property would
not be deprived by the state governments without due
process of law. Here, the most basic rights of the people
were secured from the state governments. In Minersville
School District vs. Gobits, Lillian Gobitas refused to
salute the American flag. She was a devout Jehovah's
Witness and was told not to "`Heil Hitler' nor any other
creature." This straight-A student was eventually expelled
and here father, Walter, took the case to the Supreme
Court. In 1940 the Court ruled for Minersville School
District, yet this decision was overturned on Flag Day,
1943. Lillian Gobitas, now 67, realized that she was
entitled to the freedom to speak and to express herself, or
freedom to not speak or not to express herself. The Bill of
Rights today is in need of revision;however it still
protects civil liberties and is the best declaration for
human rights that America has. Only 31 years ago did the
Court rule that prayers would not take place in the
business of government. In 1971 a defense analyst turned
over the Pentagon Papers, which documented a hidden
involvement with Vietnam. Nixon claimed that the papers
were a "threat to national security." In this case,
somebody had to defy the government in order to let the
public know what the government was doing. The government
today is still not telling the public the rest of the story
and shouldn't the public have a right to know what is going
on with foreign relations in our government? Only 2 years
ago did the Court free Gregory Johnson. He was arrested for
burning a flag in 1984. In the first amendment, the right
to hold a peaceful assembly should not be prohibited. If
burning a flag causes this much controversy should it be
noted as a peaceful assembly? Now, 200 years later, does
the Bill of Rights still apply today, under the different
circumstances, towards everybody the in the same way it did
when it was first drafted? The right to bear arms surely
must not include automatic weapons. When James Madison
constructed the Bill of Rights did he know that it would
apply to nearly 225 million people 200 years later?
Although these rights of the American people are
consistently being modified, the basic right to freedom and
liberty will always be there in general. 


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