This Day (Doing the Dozens Edition)

Published:September 25, 2017 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1789, twelve amendments to the still-new United States Constitution were sent to the states, including Virginia, for ratification. That’s right: the Bill of Rights originally had twelve, not ten, amendments. Had the first First Amendment passed, it would not have protected the free exercise of religion, speech, and the press. Instead, it would have regulated the demographics of representation:

After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand Persons.

Not particularly romantic. As for the first Second Amendment, it is much shorter and simpler:

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senator and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Virginia ratified this way back in 1791, but a sufficient number of states did not join her until May 7, 1992, when the first Second Amendment became, officially, the Twenty-seventh Amendment. It only took 74,003 days!


This post was originally published on September 25, 2012.

IMAGE: From the Library of Virginia: “The Library of Virginia owns one of the twelve surviving original copies of the Bill of Rights. This is the very copy that Congress sent to the Virginia General Assembly for ratification or rejection.”