Without the First Amendment, America as we know it could not and would not exist. Every second, every minute, every hour, of every single day, all of our lives are effected by the beauty, the majesty and the awesome power of the First Amendment. James Madison, one of our Nation's Founding Fathers, somehow within the scope of 45 words made sure the true promise of American Democracy would be manifested.
Don't believe me? Try living in a country without religious freedom, or without freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or the right to peaceably assemble and without the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It's all there in the First Amendment, along with nine other amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. Adopted in 1791 on December 15th, to protect the rights of the individual from the far reaching power of the Government, three years after the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Giving we the people the freedom to speak our mind, or voice our opinion through the written word without fear of punishment from a government that may or may not like or agree with what we have to say.
Our Founding Fathers knew that a free press could not only spark vigorous debate but would also hold our elected officials accountable. John Adams said that “the liberty of the press is essential to the security of the State”. Thomas Jefferson believed that “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost”. William Orville Douglas, our Nation's longest serving Supreme Court Judge, from 1939-1975, said that “Restriction on free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could easily defeat us”.
There is an inherent beauty to be found in the written word, it is most certainly there in the Bible. It can be found by reading the speeches of Abraham Lincoln or within the pages of Harper Lee's, 'To Kill A Mocking Bird', or Henry David Thoreau's, 'Walden Pond', or the poetry of Robert Frost. Beauty is also there within the simplicity and dignity of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“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”. Only through our eternal vigilance can we ever repay the debt owed to James Madison, Founding Father and 4th President of the United States of America.