Below the fold I will post the Introduction of my revised paper, which I’m tentatively calling “The Bill of Rights Reconsidered.” (It’s not a great title, but it’s good enough for now.) As some readers may recall, last year I drafted a paper that focused on how Franklin D. Roosevelt elevated the status of the Bill of Rights in the 1930s. Once I decided to turn this project into a book, I realized that my draft was inadequate. It noted that most people did not call the first set of amendments a bill of rights until the 1890s, but did not offer an explanation for that curious fact. I also did not explain why the terminology starting changing around 1900. Those were pretty significant holes, but now I think that I have got them covered.
A theme of the paper is that our understanding of a bill of rights moved from a formal definition in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to a practical one in the twentieth and twenty-first. Alexander Hamilton anticipated this change in Federalist #84, which I think has been misread for a long time. (More on that later this week.)