The first 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America are called the Bill of Rights. James Madison, influenced by the Virginia Declaration of Rights, wrote the Bill of Rights in response to the need for constitutional protection of individual liberties. The Bill of Rights places specific limits on government power.
Madison, then a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, attempted to change the wording in the Constitution itself where he thought appropriate, but other representatives argued that Congress had no authority to make such changes. Madison then presented his changes as 39 amendments to the Constitution, and the House approved 17 of them. Of these amendments, the Senate approved only 12, which were then sent to states for approval in August 1789. States quickly ratified articles three through 12 as amendments, with Virginia being the last to do so on Dec. 15, 1791.
As of 2014, the first article approved by the Senate, known as the Congressional Apportionment Amendment, has not been ratified. The article provided a formula for the appropriate number of representatives in the House. The second article approved by the Senate in 1789 was ratified in May 1992 as the 27th amendment. Ratification took an unprecedented 202 years and 225 days.