But he wasn't the one who came up with the idea, and there are several factors that complicate his status as author:
- Madison initially stood by the unamended Constitution, viewing the Bill of Rights as unnecessary because he did not believe that the federal government would ever become powerful enough to need one.
- Madison's mentor Thomas Jefferson was ultimately the person who convinced him to change his mind and propose a Bill of Rights. The freedoms described in the First Amendment--separation of church and state, religious free exercise, and freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and petition--were of particular concern to Jefferson.
- Jefferson himself was inspired by the work of European Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke and Cesare Beccaria.
- The language of the First Amendment was inspired by similar free speech protections written into various state constitutions.