Amending America: How do we amend the Constitution?

Our new exhibition, “Amending America,” opens on March 11, 2016.

2016​ ​marks the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, written in 1789 and ratified on December 15, 1791. The original Bill of Rights, on permanent display in the National Archives Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, is still closely connected to the biggest issues of today–and to each of our citizens.

Here is a sneak peak of a musical number explaining how we amend our Constitution.  This animated video was made in collaboration with HISTORY and shows the story of how we amend, through the proposal and ratification process. It also illustrates why our Founders made it possible to amend, and explains the important role of the Archivist of the United States in the amendment process!

Did you know that more than 11,000 amendments have been proposed in congressional history, but never made it through the approval process? As part of the work preparing for the “Amending America” exhibition, NARA volunteers and staff transcribed and edited over 11,000 entries of proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as recorded by congress from 1787 to 2014. We have made this work available as an open dataset in CSV format, available for anyone to download on Archives.gov and Data.gov. What can you visualize or do with this data? Have suggestions for improvements, let us know!

“Amending America” is on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, from March 11, 2016 through September 4, 2017. Featuring more than 50 original documents from the National Archives, this exhibit highlights the remarkably American story of how we have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution in order to form “a more perfect union.”

Amending America is presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of AT&T, HISTORY®, and the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family.

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4 Responses to Amending America: How do we amend the Constitution?

  1. Artia Dhue says:

    All Right Reserved. “Amending America” as “transcribed”, has become something bigger. Having a beginning, some of ” us” never had
    (1778). This proposed “policy”, created by “merchants”, through President by ” acts of treasons”, has life in our “State”, at all time high, ” unlawful “. I have prepared my statement inpart as Notice, and thereto the missing and misleading information among this Nation as address in 1864 and the Incorporating District of Columbia by Acts of February 21, 1871, under the Emergency War Powers Act and Reconstruction Acts thereto reorganize June 11, 1878. The terms supported cause, and causation to the great charter, to be catastrophic to my homeland. This is more than a ” perfect union”, this expands to “deceit and fraud”, on high plain levels, as detailed and description of “CAT”, illustration prepared by I, thereto registered in Washington D.C. Post. My American story has “truth” and “facts”, involving ” links of interest “, and attachments supporting missing records and misleading American citizens. As I see the truth of the ” subject and matter “, withheld information was custom apparently by “orgins of practice”, instituted by “Pharoah Akhenaten”, thereto description of ” officials “. I, AD, release this information to be interest in resources. All my ” great writings” are transparency for new developing partnership opportunities in democracy and the discoveries of missing Historical Documents at hand, q.v… I have personified a “book”, “DC Layout”, that is undiscovered and undisclosed and a mystery to most in ” blind obedience”. Truly, we are in a century consolidated by a government suspected the worst imagery delegation of officials representing “one dollar ” and not “liberty”. This has been unfair and I am truly prepare to proceed to engage a exhibition, of ” DC Layout”, supporting cause, causation and concurrent… We as individuals need “ways and means”.

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  2. lehi48 says:

    The Bill or Rights(First 10 Amendments to the Constitution) Considered to be Our inalienable Rights Bestowed Upon Us by God and so special that the Founding Fathers placed them Separate and Outside the Constitution in a Wrapper-Bill of Rights intending that these 10 never be changed. Something some of our Constitutional Scholar Presidents and Attorney Senators/Representatives have forgotten.

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  3. mpedreseo says:

    This is a great post, I have learn more reading this Amendments post than in hours at school
    thank you very much!!

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  4. Keira says:

    It is interesting to learn about those 11,000 proposed amendments, as I had no idea there was such a lot of debate over it. The fact that these amendments were debated means that they had some merit among the population, but it is obviously difficult to accommodate the wishes of everyone within the document. It is interesting to get some good perspective on this.

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