Insurrections often are propagated upon misinformation. So too are the most recent band of domestic terrorist who like to hide behind our most sacred American institutions. In this series, I want to explore the Bill of Rights and why some of the hype and hyperbole thrown around by the extremist is not just wrong but dangerously misguided.
Over the next several weeks, I will discuss the history of our constitutionally protected rights and why Congress chose to codify these and not others. I am not an attorney so I will not go into some of the legal aspects of these amendments, so please don’t ask me if your religious obsession for cordite is protected by Amendment 1 or Amendment 2. I plan to focus on why these amendments exist.
Today, I want to discuss Amendment 3:
For modern Americans, Amendment #3 is an odd one. With the rise of highly professional armies and modern warfare the idea of having to quarter troops is a non-issue but this was a real concern for people of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia following six of warfare in America and the forced boarding of thousands of British regulars in these occupied cities.
“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.”
After the French and Indian War had been concluded, British military commanders decided that some British troops ought to remain in North America. It was also decided that the colonists should pay for a larger share of the costs of those troops. One of the mechanisms by which this financing was to be done was through the quartering of troops in local buildings if military barracks were insufficient. Economic theory suggests that forcing the provision of a service or good for a particular individual is the same as a tax.
Following the Boston Tea Party, Parliament sent 20000 troops to impose martial law and close the port in Boston. Initially, these troops bivouacked on the Boston Green but as the occupation continued, accommodations suitable for the New England winter were required. The Quartering Acts were passed by Parliament to clarity on how troops kept in America were to be housed. Under these acts, the colonies were required to provide housing and supplies for soldiers in the British Army stationed in America. At first the law did not provide for housing soldiers in private residences but by 1774 this law required that housing be provided by the colonists at the location of the troop’s assignment. Troops were not only housed but the colonies and, in many cases, individual towns and hamlets were required to feed, clothe, and even entertain soldiers with no compensation from the army.
The Quartering Act were so reviled by the Colonies that they were explicitly mention in the Declaration of Independence. Among the list of “repeated injuries and usurpations” attributed to the King was “For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.” Also mentioned was the standing army which the Quartering Act represented: “He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.”
After the American Revolution, Congress debated whether the United States should even have a standing army. The federalists won that debate, but Congress enacted Third Amendment to the Constitution to guarantee that the federal government couldn’t force local governments, businesses and citizens to house U.S. soldiers.
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