Origins of the Bill of Rights

Describing the essence of Leonard Williams Levy’s Origins of the Bill of Rights.

This paper discusses the topic of this book, which is precisely as the title suggests, an investigation into the origin of each of the ten amendments that collectively constitute the Bill of Rights as well as (to a less extent) an examination of why the Bill of Rights as a whole was a necessary addition to the Constitution to ensure that it would be ratified. It shows how Levy is concerned to some extent with explaining what is usually called original intent, with providing us some insight on what was going on in the mind of the Framers of the Constitution when they chose these particular rights to be enumerated and not others.
Describing the exact nature of Leonard Williams Levy’s Origins of the Bill of Rights is not as simple as it seems, and this is in fact a measure of the strength of the book. We are so accustomed to dividing the world into clear categories popular fiction on one side, serious scholarship on another, pulp fiction over there in the corner that we are given pause when we come across a book that cannot be so easily categorized. Our first impulse may in fact be to decided that this means that there is something wrong with such a book, that the author has failed in his (in this case) attempt to produce a particular kind of text.