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James Madison

Political Offices

What were, in Madison’s words, “the great rights of mankind”?

Madison’s “great rights of mankind” were the Bill of Rights. On June 8, 1789, Madison made an impassioned plea in the U.S. House of Representatives, arguing for the adoption of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. Madison argued in part that many of the people would support the newly enacted Constitution if only they could be assured that their individual freedoms would be protected.

As Madison stated it: “[There is a] great body of the people falling under this description, who at present feel much inclined to join their support to the cause of federalism, if they were satisfied in this one point: We ought not to disregard their inclination, but, on principles of amity and moderation, conform to their wishes, and expressly declare the great rights of mankind secured under this constitution.”



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