Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress 1789-1791
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    Amendments to the Constitution
the home of Thomas Jefferson
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution . . . ."

Article V

Despite Congress's reluctance to consider any amendments to the Constitution, Rep. James Madison of Virginia forced it to face the issue early in the first session. The states had proposed more than two hundred amendments during the ratification process. When repetitious amendments are eliminated, over one hundred separate proposals can be identified. Most sought to change the structure of the federal government or the balance of power between it and the states, while others focused on protecting individual rights.

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