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People in the United States can participate in government activities by voting and opposing their views People are protected under the Constitution and Bill of Rights These documents lay down the blueprint for freedom As a man women or child you are affected by these important documents they guarantee your basic rights like freedom of speech freedom of religion and economic freedom Lincoln best put it in his Gettysburg address stating A government of the people by the people for the people It is the First Amendment that justifies this belief 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 Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28 1776 the Declaration of Independence is at once the nations most cherished symbol of liberty and Jeffersons most enduring monument Here in exalted and unforgettable phrases Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in self-evident truths and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution They demanded a bill of rights that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such
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