Episode 062: Carol Berkin, The Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights Berkin Book

Did you know that when James Madison proposed the Bill of Rights, it consisted of 36 amendments and that the House of Representatives did not want to consider or debate Madison's proposed Constitutional amendments?

Today, we explore the Bill of Rights and its ratification with Carol Berkin, author of The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties.


About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

Carol BerkinIn this episode, we explore the Bill of Rights and its ratification with Carol Berkin, the Presidential Professor Emerita of American Colonial and Revolutionary History at Baruch College, CUNY and author of The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties.

As we investigate the Bill of Rights, Carol reveals why the House of Representatives seemed reluctant to debate and pass Madison's Constitutional amendments; How James Madison’s 36 proposed amendments became 12 amendments; And, the state ratification process that agreed to add 10 of those 12 amendments to the Constitution.

What You’ll Discover

  • How Carol’s Bill of Rights adds to our knowledge about the Bill of Rights
  • Why the House of Representatives seemed reluctant to pass the Bill of Rights
  • James Madison’s political goals for the Bill of Rights
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • Why George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison wanted a new central government to replace the Articles of Confederation
  • Anti-Federalist points of view
  • Why ratification of the Constitution proved a contentious issue in New York and Virginia
  • Why some statesmen wanted a second constitutional convention
  • How James Madison’s 36 amendments for the Constitution became 12
  • The 12 amendments Congress debated
  • How the word “expressly” in the Bill of Rights almost changed the powers of the Constitution
  • Whether the Constitution conveys a history lesson like those contained in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights
  • The process of amendment ratification
  • When the United States courts began to incorporate the contents of the Bill of Rights into their decisions
James Madison
James Madison, Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights


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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion what might have happened if the states had heeded the Antifederalists’ call for a second constitutional convention? What would have happened to the Constitution of 1787? How would the government of the United States be different today?

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