NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center OLLibrary




   Religion, Speech, Press, Assemblage, Petition. ARTICLE 1.1 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; 2 or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; 3 or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.
   Militia; Right to bear Arms. ARTICLE II. A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
   The Quartering of Soldiers. ARTICLE III. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
   Unreasonable Searches. ARTICLE lV. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.4
   Criminal Prosecutions; Life, Liberty, and Property Safeguarded. ARTICLE V. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
   Rights of the Accused in Criminal Prosecutions. ARTICLE VI. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an

    1 These amendments were proposed by Congress and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth article of the Constitution. The first ten were offered in 1789 and were adopted before the close of 1791. They were for the most part the work of Madison. They are frequently called the Bill of Rights, as their purpose is to guard more efficiently the rights of the people and of the States.
   Since the Constitution went into operation in 1789 between one and two thousand amendments to it have been proposed in Congress, but only the nineteen given here have been accepted and ratified. Of these, the first twelve were ratified before the close of 1804. The three relating to the negroes or freedmen, were ratified between 1865 and 1870.
   2 "Religion." These two provisions, though they limit the power of Congress, do not restrict State legislation. judge Story, in his "Commentaries on the Constitution," says that the real object of this limitation was to "cut off the means of religious persecution (the vice and pest of former ages)."
   On the action of Congress respecting the free exercise of religion in the territories, see the "Student's American History," in this series, p. 552, note 1.
   3 "Freedom of speech and of the press." On these points judge Story (see note 2 above) quotes with approval the words of Chancellor Kent of New York, when he said, "Every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right."
   4 This is a prohibition of the use of "general warrants" such as the "Writs of Assistance" (§ 154).



impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
   Right of Trial by jury in Suits at Common Law. ARTICLE VII. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reëxamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.
   Excessive Bail and Cruel Punishments Forbidden. ARTICLE VIII. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
   Reserved Rights and Powers. ARTICLE IX. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
   Powers reserved to the States or to the People. ARTICLE X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.1
   Judicial Power of the United States; how construed. ARTICLE XI. The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another State, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.2
   Method of electing President and Vice President. ARTICLE XII. The electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice President; and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the president of the Senate; -- the president of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the

    1 This very important article secures to the States the full measure of their right to self-government in distinction from the rights guaranteed to the federal government. Judge Story remarks, in his "Commentaries on the Constitution," that the Constitution "Being an instrument of limited and enumerated powers, it follows irresistibly, that what is not conferred, is withheld, and belongs to the State authorities, if invested by their constitutions of government respectively in them; and if not so invested, it is retained by the people, as a part of their residuary sovereignty."
   2 In 1793 suits were brought in the United States Supreme Court against the States of Georgia and of Massachusetts. These proceedings created great alarm among all the States. Georgia enacted a law punishing with death any United States marshal who should attempt to serve a process upon her. Massachusetts called for the passing of an eleventh amendment to the Constitution which should prohibit suits against a State by citizens of another State or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state. The amendment was adopted in 1798. 'Under its provisions several States repudiated the payment of debts which they considered essentially unjust and hence not binding upon them



certificates, and the votes shall then be counted; -- the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice President, shall be the Vice President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice President; a quorum1 for the purpose shall consist of two thirds of the whole number of senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.2
   Slavery prohibited. ARTICLE XIII. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.3
   Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
   Who are Citizens of the United States; their Rights. ARTICLE XIV. Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.4

   1 "Quorum." See note I, p. x.
   2 According to the provisions of Article II, Section 1 (see matter inclosed in brackets), the electors voting for President and Vice President did not designate the candidates by name, but the person who received "the greatest number of votes, in excess of a majority, was to be President; and the person receiving the next highest number; whether it was a majority or not, was to be Vice President. In the election of 1800 Jefferson, whom the electors desired for President, received the same number of votes as Burr, whom they had meant to elect Vice President." The House (as the Article required) decided the question by choosing Jefferson President. But as a majority of the House were Federalists, while the two candidates for office were Republicans, the struggle was so protracted and so violent that Judge Story says it "threatened a dissolution of the government." This very serious complication led to the adoption of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, which has ever since been in force.
   3 This article, adopted in 1865, not only confirmed the Proclamation of Emancipation of 1863 (§ 340), but extended the principle, therein embodied, to the whole United States.
   4 This article made the negroes or "freedmen" citizens; it was adopted in 1868. See Rhodes' "United States," V, p. 609; see also Guthrie's "The Fourteenth Amendment," p. 110.



   Apportionment of Representatives; Denial of Right to vote to Adult Male Citizens reduces the Basis of Representation. Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, representatives in Congress, the executive or judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in anyway abridged, except for participation in rebellion or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.1
   Disability of Certain Persons to hold Office. Section 3. No person shall be a senator or representative in Congress, or elector of President or Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two thirds of each house, remove such disability.2
   Validity of the Public Debt of the United States; Certain Debts and Claims Void. 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. Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
   Right of Citizens of the United States to Vote (Negroes made Voters). ARTICLE XV. Section 1. 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.3 Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
   Income Tax (1913). ARTICLE XVI. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
   Election of Senators by the People (1913). ARTICLE XVII. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State elected by the people thereof for six years, and each Senator shall have one vote. The

   1 This sentence was superseded by the Fifteenth Amendment.
   2 Congress, in 1872 and 1898, did remove the disability.
   3 Adopted in 1870. The Fourteenth Amendment, though it made the negroes citizens of the United States, did not give them the right to vote. The Fifteenth Amendment declared that no citizen could be denied that right 11 on account of race, color, or previous condition I of servitude." But it did not prohibit the States from disfranchising the negro for other reasons, such as want of education or want of property.



electors in each State shall have the qualifications. requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature.
   When the vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies:
   Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
   This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.1
   Prohibition of Intoxicating Liquors as Beverages (1919). ARTICLE XVIII. Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof, for beverage purposes, is hereby prohibited.
   Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
   Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of the several States as provided in the Constitution within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.2
   Woman Suffrage (1920). ARTICLE XIX. Section 1. 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 sex.
   Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

   1 Passed May, 1912, in lieu of Article I, Section 3, Senate clause 1, of the Constitution and so much of clause 2 of the same Section as relates to the filling of vacancies (see page ix) proclaimed May 31, 1913.
   2 On January 16, 1919, the necessary three fourths of the States had ratified the Eighteenth Amendment (see p. xviii, Article V, on Amendments), and on January 29, 1919, it was officially declared adopted as a part of the Federal Constitution. Later in the year Congress passed the Volstead Prohibition Enforcement Bill. President Wilson vetoed it; but on October 28, 1919, it was passed over his veto under the name of the National Prohibition Act. On January 16, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment became effective. On the following day John F. Kramer, commissioner for enforcing obedience to the law, entered upon his duties, with a large number of subordinates to assist him. It was estimated that the cost of carrying on the work for the first year would be not less than $5,000,000.
   On June 7, 1920, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that both the Eighteenth Amendment and the National Prohibition Act were constitutional.

Prior page
General Index
Next page

© 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project, T&C Miller