|He's here to protect your personal liberty (millennials, this is Bill the Cat and he was very relevant at one point. This sight gag is hilarious to your elders).|
It's not that the idea of a listing of citizens' rights hadn't been a part of government documentation before. The states had included similar language in their own constitutions. But when we got close to wrapping up our own Constitution, James Madison himself - the guy who brought the Constitution draft to the meeting that became the Constitutional Convention, didn't see the point.
Madison thought that we had that stuff sorted and that the Constitution already covered what the government considered a right. But... not so much. Figuring out what was important, what people would fight over, etc... was seen as a hindrance in just getting our feet under us, and so it became the work of the first Congresses to sort it out.
The Anti-Federalists really did want that Bill of Rights, and made their case loudly and often as it would help protect individual liberty. You'll notice the Bill of Rights gets brought up a lot still today when it comes to how we relate to how our Government is allowed to deal with us (although people tend to cite their favorite Amendment while ignoring others, and interpret the Amendments to suit their own needs as often as they do their religious text of choice).
|Having done everyone's work and worrying for them, this is Madison at age 32.|
When the first Congress went into session, the Bill of Rights was the hot topic, and even James Madison eventually decided this was a good idea, if for no other reason that to belay the likelihood NOT having such a thing would lead to another go at an all-new Constitution, and we'd never get on with it as a Country. This is one of those places where you realize people are talking past one another, or are in "violent agreement" - seemingly arguing but actually wanting the same thing for different reasons. Madison agreed that we should have those Amendments so long as they were there to define personal liberty, and - apparently the only one willing to do any heavy lifting - Madison also drafted the Bill of Rights, but as inserts right into the body of the Constitution.
And, welcome to government work kids, because now it went to committee. And to the House and the Senate and back to Committee, all the while with our favorite workaholic, Madison, shepherding the process along.
Then, of course, you have to go out to the State legislatures for ratification... and... ugh.