Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Originally opposed to the inclusion of a bill of rights in the Constitution, he had gradually come to understand the importance of doing so during the often contentious ratification debates. By taking the initiative to propose amendments himself through the Congress, he hoped to preempt a second constitutional convention that might, it was feared, undo the difficult compromises of 1787, and open the entire Constitution to reconsideration, thus risking the dissolution of the new federal government. Writing to Jefferson, he stated, "The friends of the Constitution, some from an approbation of particular amendments, others from a spirit of conciliation, are generally agreed that the System should be revised. But they wish the revisal to be carried no farther than to supply additional guards for liberty."  He also felt that amendments guaranteeing personal liberties would "give to the Government its due popularity and stability".  Finally, he hoped that the amendments "would acquire by degrees the character of fundamental maxims of free government, and as they become incorporated with the national sentiment, counteract the impulses of interest and passion".  Historians continue to debate the degree to which Madison considered the amendments of the Bill of Rights necessary, and to what degree he considered them politically expedient; in the outline of his address, he wrote, "Bill of Rights—useful—not essential—". 
The Bill of Rights followed a tradition in Anglo-American law of drawing up a list of basic rights to which all the people in the state were entitled. The English Bill of Rights, enacted in 1689, included the right to petition the government with grievances, the right to trial by jury, and the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishments. In 1774 the First Continental Congress drew up a Declaration of Rights, which included such liberties as freedom of the press and a prohibition against standing armies in peacetime.