Great Rights of Mankind

Great Rights of Mankind : History of the American Bill of Rights

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A history of the origins and ratification of the first ten amendments to the American Constitution combines an analysis of English antecedents with an argument that, in concept and form, they are exceptionally Americanshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 294 pages
  • 144.78 x 215.9 x 30.48mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195021916
  • 9780195021912

Review Text

This outline of the antecedents, inception, and ground-breaking significance of the US Bill of Rights is elementary in a useful way. Schwartz, a law professor and constitutional historian, sketches the evolution of the rights of Englishmen: the Parliamentary defense embodied in the 1628 Petition of Right, the Parliamentary offensive embodied in the 1689 Bill of Rights, and in between, the wider Cromwellian debates and agreements on republican privileges which Schwartz thinks exerted surpassing influence on Americans. Colonial charters made a further advance: nowhere outside the American colonies did settlers possess the prerogatives of subjects in the mother country, or enjoy representative assemblies. This tradition in turn fueled the post-1775 state constitutions' written guarantees of individual rights still missing or revocable in Britain. When Schwartz comes to the federal Bill of Rights itself, he defends the Framers who initially omitted it: they were preoccupied with governmental powers and functions, not rights, and they denied federal jurisdiction over those rights (although the Constitution itself embodied many). The special virtue of the first ten amendments, Schwartz finds, is the enforcement machinery provided by the Constitution; he considers judicial review procedures "the inarticulate major premise of Revolutionary constitutional development." Bypassing the fine points of such questions along with the political and social context of the Anglo-American evolution described, this is a much briefer, less polemical but equally broad and appreciative counterpart to Irving Brant's esteemed The Bill of Rights (1965). (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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