What Are Some of the Well-Known Amendments to the U.S. Constitution?

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The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights and are among the most well-known amendments. The Bill of Rights was written by representative James Madison.

Madison wrote the Bill of Rights in response to several states that wanted to ensure greater constitutional protection of individual rights. The Federalists argued that a bill of rights was unnecessary because all powers not enumerated in the Constitution were retained by the states. The Anti-federalists, on the other hand, argued that a bill of rights was necessary to retain and protect individual liberties.

Madison, using the Virginia Declaration of Rights as a guide, went through the Constitution, making changes as he deemed necessary. However, other representatives objected to direct changes to the document and instead agreed to a list of amendments.

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution guarantee the right to free speech, the right to assemble, the right to petition the government to address wrongs and the right to bear arms. They also prohibit a person from being forced to provide self-incriminating testimony in court, from being forced to provide lodging for soldiers and from being forced to endure cruel and unusual punishment.

Beyond the Bill of Rights, there are 17 additional amendments to the Constitution as of 2015.