Upon the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and after the proposed Constitution was submitted by Congress to the states for ratification, there arose a clamor concerning the absence of a bill or declaration of rights therein. Scholars have disagreed as to the basis for this controversy. Story says that the demand was "a matter of very exaggerated declamation and party zeal, for the mere purpose of defeating the Constitution." Cooley concludes that leading statesmen made the want of a bill of rights in the Constitution the ground of a "decided, earnest, and formidable opposition to the confirmation of the National Constitution by the people; and its adoption was only secured in some of the leading States in connection with the recommendation of amendments which should have covered the ground." Rutland makes note of the view that the absence of a bill of rights was used in an attempt to defeat ratification, but adds that: "A more dispassionate view now indicates that a broad base of public opinion forced the adoption of the Bill of Rights upon the political leaders who knew the value of compromise." And Beard does not ascribe the opposition to the Constitution to the lack of a bill of rights, but to the economic interests of the small farmers and debtors.
Joseph J. Stengel,
The Background of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Part Two,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol4/iss1/4