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How Many Amendments Are to the Constitution

The original Constitution1 of the United States of America was approved on September 17, 1787. It happened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the Federal Convention. Since then 27 changes, which are usually called “amendments”2 have been made to the U.S. Constitution.

James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, proposed the first ten amendments. They constituted the Bill of Rights3. These amendments were ratified in 1791. The other seventeen amendments were put into function subsequently. The last one was endorsed on May 7, 1992. Though there are 27 amendments to the Constitution of the USA, only 26 of them are in function. The point is that the 21st amendment annulled the 18th one.

The procedure of amending is described in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The procedure consists of two different parts. First, an amendment proposal must be supported by 2/3 majority of both Houses of the Congress. Second, 3/4 of the states must approve it. An amendment proposal should be ratified in a seven years period. If it fails to be approved within this time, it is called “expired”.

The table below explains all the amendments to the Constitution.

#
Year
Amendment
1st
1791
Freedom of religion, speech, press, petition and peaceful assembly.
2nd
1791
The right to bear arms.
3rd
1791
No forced quartering of soldiers.
4th
1791
No unreasonable searching or seizures.
5th
1791
In criminal cases trial only by jury, no self-incrimination or double jeopardy.
6th
1791
The right to fair and speedy trial, legal representation, and knowledge of accusation.
7th
1791
In civil cases trial by jury according to law.
8th
1791
No unusual or cruel punishment, excessive fines and bails.
9th
1791
Not specified rights are retained by people.
10th
1791
Limitation of the federal government’s powers to the specified in the U.S. Constitution.
11th
1795
Sovereign immunity foundation.
12th
1804
New procedure of presidential election
13th
1865
Abolition of slavery.
14th
1868
Definition of citizenship.
15th
1870
No denial of suffrage based on color, race, or former condition of servitude.
16th
1913
The federal government has the right to collect income taxes.
17th
1913
Senators are elected by popular vote.
18th
1919
Prohibition of alcohol (annulled by the 21st amendment).
19th
1920
No denial of suffrage based on sex.
20th
1933
Details regarding presidential and congressional terms.
21st
1933
Repeals the 18th amendment.
22nd
1951
The President is limited to two terms in office.
23rd
1961
The District of Columbia gets representation in the Electoral College.
24th
1964
No tax payments for the right to vote.
25th
1967
Definition of the presidential succession process.
26th
1971
The voting age is 18 years old.
27th
1992
Laws which affect Congressional salary, take effect with the beginning of the next Congress.
  1. The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the USA. It was adopted on the 17th of September, 1787, and ratified the same year.
  2. An amendment is a change to the Constitution text.
  3. The Bill of Rights is the name for the very first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It serves to protect the rights of the people including freedoms of speech, religion, free press, etc. The Bill of Rights was introduced by James Madison.
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