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Puritans Essay, Research Paper

Why Puritans Came to America: Freedom

When the English came to America to escape religious persecution,

things commenced at a shaky start. For example, Puritans fled from England

because of religious persecution. They were being physically beaten because

of their religious beliefs therefore they attempted to create a Utopia or

“City upon a hill” in the New World. There “City upon a hill” began with a

government based on religious beliefs. It developed into a government

which condemned those who did not believe in the Puritan beliefs. For

example, one had to believe in the Puritan religion and attend church to

vote and become a member of the Puritan society. This practice further

developed into a situation in which you were beaten or killed if you did

not believe in the Puritan religion and remained in Puritan “Utopia” — the

exact situation which they had fled from England. Later, it would take the

gathering of American thinkers to deduce what liberties were guaranteed and

which were not, to avoid mistakes made by puritans and others in history.

The Forefathers of the United States conjured up the Bill of Rights which

illustrated which rights were endowed to the people of the United States.

They adopted the Bill of rights, which was drafted for political

motivations, and it evolved into a document which shelters American

people’s civil liberties.

When the Bill of Rights was adopted, political motivations superceded

libertarian views. James Madison claimed that this “nauseous project of

amendments” would “kill the opposition[for the ratification of the

constitution] everywhere…” In the beginning, the Bill of Rights was

first drafted up to appease the Anti-Federalists and coax them into

ratifying the constitution. For without the Bill of Rights the constitution

may have never been ratified. After its ratification, the Bill of Rights

evolved into more realistic terms. The Federalists began to notice the

importance of the Bill of Rights as much as the Anti? Federalists had.

During the next few years the Bill of Rights began to be accepted by the

American people as the essence towards freedom. As it was noticed more and

more over the years, the Bill of Rights became the basis for individual

rights. It entitled the American people to rights which they had not

experienced before such as the freedom of press and speech.

In Tennessee’s “Monkey Trial” of 1925, John Scope, a science teacher,

was convicted for teaching evolution. Only 43 years later would that state

law be overturned. This constant evolution of the Bill of Rights has made

it what it is today, a document claiming that the American people have

certain ‘unalienable’ rights. In 1868, the 14th Amendment was drafted to

insure that peoples rights towards life, liberty, and property would not be

deprived by the state governments without due process of law. Here, the

most basic rights of the people were secured from the state governments.

In Minersville School District vs. Gobits, Lillian Gobitas refused to

salute the American flag. She was a devout Jehovah’s Witness and was told

not to “`Heil Hitler’ nor any other creature.” This straight-A student was

eventually expelled and here father, Walter, took the case to the Supreme

Court. In 1940 the Court ruled for Minersville School District, yet this

decision was overturned on Flag Day, 1943. Lillian Gobitas, now 67,

realized that she was entitled to the freedom to speak and to express

herself, or freedom to not speak or not to express herself.

The Bill of Rights today is in need of revision;however it still

protects civil liberties and is the best declaration for human rights that

America has. Only 31 years ago did the Court rule that prayers would not

take place in the business of government. In 1971 a defense analyst turned

over the Pentagon Papers, which documented a hidden involvement with

Vietnam. Nixon claimed that the papers were a “threat to national

security.” In this case, somebody had to defy the government in order to

let the public know what the government was doing. The government today is

still not telling the public the rest of the story and shouldn’t the public

have a right to know what is going on with foreign relations in our

government? Only 2 years ago did the Court free Gregory Johnson. He was

arrested for burning a flag in 1984. In the first amendment, the right to

hold a peaceful assembly should not be prohibited. If burning a flag

causes this much controversy should it be noted as a peaceful assembly?

Now, 200 years later, does the Bill of Rights still apply today, under

the different circumstances, towards everybody the in the same way it did

when it was first drafted? The right to bear arms surely must not include

automatic weapons. When James Madison constructed the Bill of Rights did

he know that it would apply to nearly 225 million people 200 years later?

Although these rights of the American people are consistently being

modified, the basic right to freedom and liberty will always be there in


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