ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Year for Two Amendments: The story of two amendments that were added 100 years ago.

Updated on August 17, 2012

Our Constitution, which went into effect in 1789, is incomplete. It is a flexible document and its interpretation changes because of culture and time. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments that guarantee rights to the people, was written as a way of protecting citizens agaisnt governmental control. Several states ratified the Constitution only because of the promise that these amendments would be passed, which they were in 1791.

Changing the Constitution is a hard process. An amendment must be proposed in Congress and passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. (An amendment can also be proposed by a convention called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the states, but this method has never been used.) Once Congress passes the amendment it must be sent to the states for approval. Three-fourths of the states must ratify it within a certain time frame, which is set by Congress and is usually seven years. Today that means 38 states must approve an amendment before it becomes part of the Constitution.

Over 10,000 amendments have been introduced, but only 27 of them became part of the Constitution. Two of them were added a hundred years ago.

The 16th Amendment

The Sixteenth Amendment: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes or incomes fom whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

An income tax had been employed to raise money during the Civil War and was repealed after the war. At that time the federal government relied mainly on tariffs for revenues. But by the 1890s, a movement grew to return the income tax, especially on the wealthy. In 1894, Congress passed a law imposing a 2% tax on incomes over $4,000, essentially the top 1% of Americans. Tax opponents challenged the law in court, saying the tax was a direct tax, apportioned equally between the states. Of course, that's not possible with an income tax, and the Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional. A way around this was an income tax amendment, which wa accomplished under William Howard Taft's administration.

The 17th Amendment

The Seventeenth Amendment: "The Senate of the United States shal be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years, and each senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature..."

Besides providing for the direct election of the U.S. senators by the people of a state, the amendment further explains how the governor of a state may fill a vacancy by appointment until an election can be held.

Previous to this amendment, each state legislature voted on its two U.S. senators. Undue influence by political organizations and special interests groups corrupted this system. Senators elected by the people of a state are more responsible to them.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)