The Constitution of the United States of America consists of 27 amendments, the first 10 of which make up the Bill of Rights.
The very first amendment listed in the Constitution gives people freedom of religion, assembly, press, petition, and speech. The first settlers to ever come to North America first arrived back in 1607 in hope of escaping religious persecution and living a life of freedom. The first colonies of the United States were originally founded based on freedom, which is given to people by the first amendment of the Constitution, therefore making the first amendment the foundation for all the other amendments that followed it. The first amendment is the most important amendment of the Constitution for it defines the basic freedoms of anyone who lives in the United States of America, and it helps protect people’s rights. Before the Constitution, the colonies were governed by the Articles Confederation.
Though the Articles gave power to the Congress of Confederation, the power was extremely limited, and in 1787, delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia to work on drafting a new government system for the colonies. (“The Constitution”, n.d.
) The Bill of Rights was first introduced by James Madison, who came up with 12 amendments, 10 of which make up the Bill of Rights. Though Madison was the one to write the Bill of Rights, he was greatly influenced by Thomas Jefferson, particularly in writing the first amendment, since Jefferson was greatly concerned about the freedoms that Madison listed in the first amendment of the Constitution. (Head, 2017) The first amendment gives Americans the right to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. It states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (“Constitute”, n.d.) Giving people the freedom of religion was one of the most important things for the colonists, since people first came here seeking religious freedom.
During that time, British people were not allowed to say or publish something against the King, but America believed that people should be free to express their political views freely without being punished for it. Giving people the right to peacefully assemble and petition is the last part of the amendment, and it gives people a greater say in the government and the way things are done. The first amendment gives people basic freedoms that allow them to live their lives freely without being controlled by the law. In many countries, people can not say or publish anything negative against the government or their leaders. The first amendment gives the press the freedom to publish things about the government, both negative and positive, without being punished unfairly for it.
The amendment also gives people the freedom to practice their own religion without being persecuted or discriminated against for it. It gives people the right to peacefully assemble and petition, which allows people to peacefully voice their opinion regarding the country’s government. The first amendment can be considered the most important amendment since it is what keeps the country’s democratic government stable and organized. (“Why is the First Amendment Important?”, 2017) The first amendment ensures people the freedoms of press and speech. Since today everyone has a different political view and believes in different things, people can express their views freely without being arrested or punished for it. The freedom of press also plays a major role in today’s world, since many newspapers and media outlets express their political opinions publically. Throughout history, people were thrown in jail and punished severely for saying anything against the country’s leader or government.
The founders of the United States declared freedom of speech and press as one of the first rights given to the people, indicating how important these freedoms actually are. The first amendment gives people the freedom to practice whatever religion they wish without being discriminated against for it. The amendment prevents religion from being brought into government matters, and it stops it from affecting any process in any way. The freedom of speech prevents people from being unfairly punished if they say something negative about the government or their leaders. People can voice their political opinion, and even if it opposes the powers in the country, no one can be held accountable for what they think.
Over the course of history and even in some countries nowadays, people may be arrested, punished, or even killed for saying something against their country’s government. The first amendment keeps this from ever happening in the United States. The freedom of the press was also usually not accepted by many countries. Publishing something negative about one’s leader or country’s government could also get a person arrested or punished.
People used to be often arrested for protesting against the government, or petitioning against things they did not support or disapproved of. Before the Revolutionary War, the American colonists were punished by the British government and lost the right to govern themselves after they protested the British rule during the Boston Tea Party. The first amendment has been used in many Supreme Court cases. The amendment can protect people from being punished for publishing anything negative about people and authority figures.
In a case in 1931, when a newspaper editor Jay Near published an article associating local Minnesota officials with gangsters. (Willsey, 2010) Near was kept from publishing his paper by Minnesota officials, and the case was taken to the Supreme Court. The court decided that keeping Near from publishing his was a violation of the first amendment, therefore the court ruled in Near’s favor. Another court case that involved the First Amendment took place whenever 187 petitioners, mainly black men, peacefully protested the segregation laws in their states. (“Edwards v. South Carolina”, 2017) Many were arrested, even though the protest was peaceful and organized and did not disturb any traffic and took place on a public property. The court aimed to determine whether or not the events violated their freedoms of speech, assembly, and petition. The court decided that this was a violation of the people’s rights stated in the first amendment of the Constitution.
Many people would argue that the 14th amendment is the most important, which states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. … nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” But if it weren’t for the the first amendment, the fourteenth amendment may not have existed as well as the rest of the amendments in the Constitution. The first amendment provides a foundation for all the other amendments that that it precedes, since if people in the past and even today didn’t have the freedom of assembly and the right to petition, many issues that were resolved in the rest of the amendments may have never addressed by the government. If people didn’t have the right to express themselves freely and voice their political opinions both in print and in speech, then people wouldn’t be able to make the problems that need to addressed in the government known to everyone. The first amendment of the Constitution protects the basic freedoms of people; freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition, freedoms that laid the foundation for the formation of this country. Many wars, battles, protests, and rebellions that have taken place in America share common roots: a fight for freedom and rights.
Whether it be the American Revolutionary War, where the American colonists were fighting to gain their freedom from the British and form this country, or the Civil War, where America fought against itself for the freedom of its slaves, or the Civil Rights Movements, where people worked to gain equality in the United States between all races. The first amendment defines the basic freedoms of anyone living in the United States of America, and lays the base for all the amendments that follow it, therefore I believe that it is the most important out of the 27 amendments of the American Constitution.