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By Gordon Lloyd

Many citizens have a limited understanding of American history and our unique form of constitutional government.

Without this knowledge, how can we expect them to exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship?

Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the adoption of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, is December 15.

The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of the Bill of Rights, which was ratified in 1791 and is considered essential not only to American law and government but also to the protection of individual liberty.

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1. The First Amendment addresses the right to freedom of

"The First Amendment text reads: 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'" (History)

2. How many specific rights are enumerated in the Bill of Rights?

3. The Third Amendment states that without the consent of the owner of a house

"Amendment III. No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law." (Cornell Law)

4. The “Indictment of Grand Jury” clause of the Fifth Amendment applies only to

"A defendant in a criminal case in a federal court may be required to stand trial and his conviction may be sustained where only hearsay evide...for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury." (Casemine)

5. According to the Sixth Amendment

"The Sixth Amendment guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay, the right to a lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to know who your accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against you." (Cornell Law)

6. The Second Amendment states that the right of the people

"The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." (Cornell Law)

7. According to the Eighth Amendment

"The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: 'Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.'" (Constitution Center)

8. Which state was the first to ratify the Bill of Rights?

"On November 20, 1789, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights - the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Of the twelve articles proposed, New Jersey actually approved eleven." (

9. Which state did not vote in favor of adoption of the of the Bill of Rights until 1939?

"All three later ratified the Constitutional amendments originally known as Articles Three through Twelve as part of the 1939 commemoration of the Bill of Rights' sesquicentennial: Massachusetts on March 2, Georgia on March 18, and Connecticut on April 19." (Wikipedia)

10. Disagreement at the time about the need for the Bill of Rights took place between

"Federalists argued that the Constitution did not need a bill of rights, because the people and the states kept any powers not given to the federal government. Anti-Federalists held that a bill of rights was necessary to safeguard individual liberty." (Bill of Rights Institute)


Answers: 1-D, 2-C, 3-D, 4-A, 5-A, 6-B, 7-C, 8-C, 9-B, 10-C

About the Writer 

Gordon Lloyd is a senior fellow of the Ashbrook Center and the author of the forthcoming Ashbrook Center book compilation “The Creation of the Bill of Rights: Core Documents.” He wrote this for

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