The Location of the Bill of Rights
I thought I was done with this theme for the time being, but my research yesterday pointed to something else I thought was worth mentioning. When you look at state constitutions, there is one important difference between their bills of rights and the Federal version. Many states put their bill of rights FIRST (or right after a brief Preamble). This may explain why people were unwilling or unable to see the 1791 amendments as a bill of rights for a long time. (States also treat their constitutions like statutes–amendments are just inserted into the document and the original language is altered. The Federal Constitution, of course, is not like that.)
It’s also worth noting that state bills of rights were modeled (I think) on the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776. They tend to be long, contain general statements about liberty and democracy, and only occasionally ape the language of the federal bill. Maybe I’ll explore that in greater detail.