The Bill of Rights in Historical Perspective
October 19-21, 2012 and April 5-7, 2013
During the ratification debates, criticism of the Constitution focused largely on the absence of a ‘bill of rights.' James Madison responded to this criticism by observing that the Constitution restricted the powers of the national government to those that were clearly defined. He also noted that any enumeration of rights was likely to be incomplete and thus leave important non-enumerated rights unprotected.
This seminar will examine the Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist debate on a bill of rights in the context of modern natural rights theory. In particular, participants will explore how Madison's position evolved between 1787 and 1789, and how he eventually became the chief architect of the Bill of Rights.