Amendments (Historical Context)

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1st Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It embodies many principles central to the Enlightenment, especially those supported by the thinker Voltaire.
5th Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It was passed to protect the people from government authority in legal manners. This protection includes from being tried for the same crime multiple times and from incriminating against oneself.
6th Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It was designed to protect the rights of the accused from government abuse. Examples of such government abuse were delaying trials, not allowing trials to be public, and the use of biased juries
18th Amendment
Proponents of prohibition had for decades linked alcohol use to problems such as poverty and the destruction of family life. Efforts to ban the use of alcoholic beverages led to passage of this amendment. It is a progressive era amendment.
20th Amendment
The main provisions of this amendment shortened the time between elections and when presidents and members of Congress take office. These changes reflected the improvements in transportation which allowed for easier travel to Washington and also reflected the desire to avoid "lame duck" periods in the transition from one administration or session to another.
21st Amendment
Congress enacted the Volstead Act to implement the provisions of the 18th Amendment. Difficulties in enforcing the law led to widespread disregard for Prohibition and increased criminal activities during the 1920s. A successful 1932 Democratic Party campaign against Prohibition led to the proposal and ratification of this amendment , which repealed the 18th Amendment.
17th Amendment
Critics of state politics viewed political party bosses and business leaders as having too much influence on state legislatures and their selection of senators. This amendment provides for the direct election of senators by the people. This is a progressive era amendment.
26th Amendment
As a result of many young men being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War but not being able to vote, this amendment extends the right to vote to citizens who are 18 years of age or older.
27th Amendment
Originally proposed in 1789 to limit conflicts of interest among members of Congress in determining their own compensation, this amendment was not ratified with the 10 amendments known today as the Bill of Rights. Popular opposition to congressional pay raises in the 1980s renewed interest in the amendment after it was rediscovered by a graduate student, and it was ratified in 1992.
14th Amendment
This amendment defined what persons were citizens of the United States and offered protection from state infringements on citizens' rights. It also revised the means for determining representation in the House of Representatives and included punishments for former Confederates and their states. This is the second of the three Reconstruction Amendments.
13th Amendment
The conflict over slavery was a primary cause of the American Civil War. As the war came to a close, plans to "reconstruct" the rebellious states were instituted. This amendment, which abolished slavery, was not part of President Lincoln's original plan to readmit former Confederate states to Congress. Ratification of this amendment became a requirement under President Johnson's Reconstruction plan.
4th Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It's purpose was to address the Colonial grievance of British leaders being able to enter Colonial homes, search them, and seize property without specific cause.
22nd Amendment
This amendment was passed following the four-term presidency of Franklin Roosevelt to institutionalize the two-term tradition established by George Washington.
2nd Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It comes out of the English Bill of Rights which established the right to own a gun to defend one's natural rights and to defend the state.
15th Amendment
This amendment was passed following the Civil War and prohibits the denial of suffrage to people because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. This is the last of the Reconstructions amendments.
10th Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It addresses concerns of Anti-Federalists and weakened state power by restating the Constitution's principle of Federalism. Powers not granted to the Federal Government are retained by the states and the people.
12th Amendment
This amendment altered the procedures of the Electoral College. The change allowed separate balloting for president and vice president to avoid a tie in electoral votes, as happened in the election of 1800.
8th Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It comes out of the English Bill of Rights and sought to limit both Congress' and the Court's ability to hand out punishments that are excessive or cruel.
16th Amendment
Concerns over the usage of tariffs by the federal government and distribution of wealth in the country had been raised by the Populist Party. Progressives took up the call for reform and This amendment was passed to allow for a federal income tax.
24th Amendment
Poll taxes disenfranchised the poor and were also used as Jim Crow legislation to deny the right to vote to African Americans. This amendment prohibits the use of poll taxes in federal elections.
3rd Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It addresses the Revolutionary era grievance of forcing citizens to provide housing for soldiers.
25th Amendment
Lyndon B. Johnson, who had a history of heart problems, took office following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As with other presidential successions, this left the office of the vice president vacant. This amendment clarified that a successor to the presidency was designated as President of the United States and included provisions for filling the office of Vice President. It also outlined procedures to be used in case of presidential disability.
7th Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It was created because of shortcoming of the legal system under the British Monarchy. Corruption existed among judges, which meant that rulings in civil cases may not be fairly handed out. This Amendment addresses that concern in cases involving $20 or more.
19th Amendment
Another longstanding voting reform effort was focused on obtaining the right to vote for women. This amendment ended the denial of suffrage based upon the sex of a citizen. This is a progressive era reform and a result of women's role outside the home during WWI.
9th Amendment
This amendment was ratified in 1791 and became part of the Bill of Rights. It addressed the concern held by many Federalists that creating a Bill of Rights could be taken to mean that the people have these rights and ONLY these rights. This amendment establishes that other rights are retained by the people.
23rd Amendment
The Electoral College was originally based upon electors representing states. As the population of the District of Columbia grew, it was decided that the residents there deserved to have the opportunity to vote for electors in presidential elections - this amendment grants them that.
11th Amendment
This amendment was proposed in 1794, one year after the Supreme Court ruled in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) that a lawsuit involving a state being sued by a citizen from another state could be heard in a federal court. Concerns over the extent of federal power led to the passage of this amendment, which limits the jurisdiction of the federal courts in cases of this type.