Nitty gritty?Â 16 – 18 year oldsÂ $5,000 prize.
- We The People, National Endowment for the Humanities,Â Idea of America Essay Contest, Topic:Â The First Amendment
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. — First Amendment, U.S. Constitution
When the U.S. Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, it did not contain the freedoms now outlined in the Bill of Rights, because many of the Framers viewed their inclusion as unnecessary. However, after vigorous debate, the Bill of Rights was adopted.
While the wording of the First Amendment is now very familiar to Americans, the rights and liberties it guarantees, involving religion, speech, free press, public assembly and petition, were debated and modified numerous times by members of the First Congress during the Summer of 1789.
Write an essay that examines the historical debate over the benefits and disadvantages of adopting the First Amendment. Are the freedoms named in the First Amendment fundamental and if so why?
Include in your essay a discussion of how these rights and liberties were seen at the time of the founding as being important to the functioning of our democratic republic. Also discuss some of the historical precedents, as well as the political and philosophical principles that influenced the drafters of this amendment. You may discuss the First Amendment as a whole, or address one or two of its provisions.