\ɐmˈɛndmənts], \ɐmˈɛndmənts], \ɐ_m_ˈɛ_n_d_m_ə_n_t_s]\
Definitions of AMENDMENTS
Sort: Oldest first
It was one of the chief defects of the Articles of Confederation that they provided no means for their amendment save by unanimous consent of the thirteen States. Three proposals of amendment which would have usefully strengthened the articles, failed of obtaining this unanimous consent. The Convention of 1787, summoned to amend the articles, made a new constitution instead. This provided for amendment on proposal by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress or by a convention, if ratification were secured from three-fourths of the States, through legislatures or conventions. In fact, all have come from Congress and been ratified by State legislatures. In 1788 several States, beginning with Massachusetts, suggested amendments when ratifying the Constitution. Hence came, in the first Congress, the proposals which brought into existence the first ten amendments. Of many proposed, only fifteen amendments have been ratified since the adoption of the Constitution. The first ten were ratified December 15, 1791. They relate respectively to 1, freedom of religion, speech and the press; 2, the right to establish State militia; 3, the quartering of troops in private houses; 4, the security of persons against unwarrantable searches and seizures; 5, capital crime; 6, criminal prosecutions; 7, trial by jury in common-law cases; 8, bails, fines and punishments; 9, the relation of constitutional and natural rights; 10, powers reserved to the States. The series is thus of the nature of a bill of rights. The Eleventh Amendment was ratified January 8, 1798. Under its provisions no citizen or citizens of a State of the Union, or of a foreign State, can prosecute a suit against any other State of the Union in a Federal court. This relieves the dignity of the State, but weakens the power of justice toward a citizen, and facilitates repudiation by States. The Twelfth Amendment was ratified September 25, 1804, and settled a new method of electing the president and vice-president. Under its provisions, electors, chosen by the people, meet in their respective States and vote for the two highest officers by distinct ballots. If no candidate obtains a majority the House of Representatives elects a president by ballot from among the candidates. The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified by December 18, 1865. It provided that slavery should not exist within the United States and that Congress should make legislative appropriation for the enforcement of the article. This amendment was ratified by nineteen loyal States and eight of those engaged in the Rebellion. The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified July 21, 1868. It forbade the States to abridge the privileges of citizens of the Union, diminished representation in case the suffrage was thus restricted, closed offices to all persons who had engaged in insurrection or rebellion, and acknowledged the public debt. The Fifteenth Amendment was ratified March 30, 1870. It affirms that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude."
By John Franklin Jameson