From the inception of the U.S. Constitution, there has been a widespread ignorance of how little it originally protected individual rights from abuses by state governments.
The Declaration of Independence asserts that men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. But the Constitution was written in an environment when states were older, more established, and often more powerful than our national government. The newly created and weak national government was in no position to protect individual rights that states infringed upon.
Thus, an individual had only as many rights as his state decided to grant. The Constitution recognized that the source of rights could be state governments; if a state chose to deny a person's unalienable rights, that was the state's prerogative.
The fascinating book, "Candid Insights of a Mormon Apostle: The Diaries of Abraham H. Cannon 1889-1895," illustrates how individual liberty was limited by states rights. On Feb. 3, 1890 Cannon wrote: "The U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Idaho Test Oath, which disfranchises all Mormons is constitutional. According to this oath ... no man who is a member of our Church can vote or hold office. This decision will doubtless have the effect to eventually debar every Mormon in the whole United States of the rights of freemen ... the time is fast approaching when the Saints will be called to ... save the Constitution from being trampled underfoot."