I should have gotten to this earlier (but I have been reading exams and term papers, never mind our first December grad ceremonies yesterday, in the middle of the blizzard, no less!) because the 15th was National Bill of Rights Day (as proclaimed by FDR). Joseph Postell has written a fine piece on the Bill of Rights in which he discusses the founders’ objections to a bill of rights, and suggests that the primary reason they thought fit to give us the first ten amendments to the Constitution was to, in Madison’s words, "incorporate into the national sentiment" an understanding of our rights and liberties and a desire to preserve them. Do read it.
You might also want to visit our site on Ratification of the Constitution, and I bring to your special attention this Ratification Overview Table, to see
the various amendments and bills of rights that were proposed, starting with
the Massachusetts ratification. The site is the work of Gordon Lloyd and Roger Beckett.