November 20, 1789 – New Jersey Is The First State to Ratify The Bill of Rights

On this day in history, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights had been introduced by James Madison on June 8, 1789.

Originally, seventeen articles were proposed; These were subsequently reduced to twelve amendments passed by Congress and sent to the states on September 25, 1789. New Jersey approved eleven. The first, relating to how federal representation would be determined based on population, was ratified by New Jersey but not by the required number of states. The second, relating to the salaries of members of Congress, was rejected by New Jersey, but later approved in 1992 as the 27th Amendment. Articles 3 through 12 became the 1st through 10th Amendments.

You can read the twelve articles, as proposed, here. You can also enlarge these Library of Congress images to read all seventeen articles.

A copy of the proposed amendments to the Constitution submitted to the state legislatures from the appendix to the Senate Journal, First Congress, First Session.

A copy of the proposed amendments to the Constitution submitted to the state legislatures from the appendix to the Senate Journal, First Congress, First Session.

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