In 1789, the United States sought to make the union more perfect. The national government was in place and the Constitution ratified, but the states were still wary of the potential excesses of federal power. James Madison drafted 12 articles to amend the Constitution, guaranteeing certain rights to the states and the people. When the states finally finished votes to ratify them by 1791, two did not pass, leaving the 10 amendments we now know as the Bill of Rights. In this series of ten short videos, TIME brings to life the words of the Founding Fathers and explores how these deeply felt ideas about liberty and property have evolved into the amendments as we interpret them today.
Along with producer Bonnie Bertram, assisted by Valerie Lapinski, we found individuals with a stake in each of the amendments (a pastor, journalists, law students and a governor) and asked them to recite the original words out loud. Then we gathered interviews with constitutional scholars to act as a sort of greek chorus, explaining why the amendments were necessary and what they mean to us today. Editors John Gramaglia and Karlyn Michelson put them together with great panache, and Mallika Menon was a great support both in the office and in the field. Andrew Wegst worked with me in the historic court house in St. Louis and the old prison in Jefferson City.
Go here to see the whole package, or click on the links below to see each of the ten Amendments.