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Constitution Monday: No Soldiers Living in Your Home

The Third Amendment in the Bill of Rights might sound strange to modern American ears:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

What would Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh make of this? What American wouldn’t be proud to host a soldier in his or her home? Isn’t it the least any America-loving family could do if one or more of our servicemembers needed housing? What sort of America-haters were our Founders, anyway?

While the Founders were grateful to General Washington and the Continental Army, they understood that the military was a tool like any other that could be used for good or ill depending on the agenda of the government.

They also had fresh experience with King George III quartering his soldiers in American homes and making the homeowners responsible for their room and board. Colonial Americans found this burdensome in an era of relative scarcity, despite the fact that these were “home team” troops prior to the Revolution.

So the Founders decided that unless there was no other way to provide for our soldiers during wartime, they would not allow the new government to force people to convert their homes to barracks.

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