The Constitution of the United States is set in stone. Or rather, written on paper and subject to change. As you can imagine, the process is slow and often unsuccessful.
Various political obstacles must be overcome. Thirty-eight of them in fact, which is the number of States required to ratify a proposal. Twenty-seven amendments would have been adopted since the creation of the Constitution in 1787.
Some failed amendments are bonkers and worthy of the historical trash. Others, however, are truly missed opportunities. We let you judge who is what.
Abolition of the army and navy
America without its fighting forces? An idea unthinkable for many! Yet an attempt was made to do so in 1893.
Lucas M. Miller, a representative from Wisconsin, presented the plan. Miller was a merchant and lawyer born in the Greek city of Livadeia. He fought in the Mexican-American War of the 1840s.
Miller had seen the conflict with his own eyes. His fellow Americans did not agree with the strategy and the amendment was therefore rejected.
Think about drinking
Strong anti-alcohol laws were passed in America, especially during the prohibition era. However, completely excluding alcohol was not an option.
The year 1938 saw an amendment banning “drunkenness in the United States and all of its territories”. Morris Sheppard was the responsible senator. He was from Morris County (!) Texas and was instrumental in tackling turn-of-the-century American drinkers.
Crusader Sheppard actually pushed for a drunken ban from 1935, two years after the ban ended. The famous 21st Amendment had repealed the national drought – it wanted to turn the tide.
Sheppard was considered woolly by some in the room. How things work highlights a source from the House Judiciary Committee, in which an “anonymous joker suggested that Congress might be empowered to change human nature or perhaps abolish Saturday night as well.”
Fight for your vote (literally)
The year 1916 ushered in an amendment that called for those who advocated war to put their money where it was. The HuffPost describes how “a group of Nebraska residents” petitioned Congress with a dual purpose.
First, that a “national referendum” be held to decide whether the United States enters the battle. Second, “anyone who voted in favor of the war would have been required to register” with the military.
In other words, if you love war so much, go fight it yourself!
No interracial marriages
Georgia Rep. Big Name Seaborn Anderson Roddenbery had a bee in his political hat about miscegenation – also known as interracial marriage!
Dismayed by the union of boxer Jack Johnson, aka the “Galveston Giant”, to Lucille Cameron, Roddenbery expressed his feelings more than clear.
He called inter-race marriage “repulsive and opposed to any sense of the pure American spirit,” as author Al-Tony Gilmore recalled in 1975. Fortunately, that view did not prevail.
The Corwin Amendment was intended to maintain the slavery system in 1861. It was the year of the Civil War, a conflict sparked by attitudes toward slave ownership.
The US Constitution cites the proposal, which wanted to remove the government’s power to “abolish or interfere” with “national state institutions”. One example being “persons required to work or serve by the laws of that state”.
Thomas Corwin of Ohio (pictured) lent his name to the amendment, which ThoughtCo writing was “conceived by outgoing President James Buchanan as a means of preventing civil war”. He sought to do so by allowing slavery-prone states to continue their activities as usual, theoretically reducing national tensions.
Infamously spent a few days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, the controversial idea did not fly. The war took place and ultimately slavery was abolished.
Three are better than one
Why have a single occupant in the White House when a trio of leaders might just as well work? Uh, okay.
Constitutional Center mentions the 1876 amendment, according to which a “Roman-style triumvirate of three” would take the lead. For Congress, it turned out to be too many cooks. Proponent Augustus Wilson (described as “a citizen”) was disappointed.
Children must be worked and not heard
The year 1926 saw the suggestion of an amendment that, in part, “would limit, regulate and prohibit the employment” of American workers under the age of 18.
Ohio Congressman Israel Moore Foster was behind an amendment two years earlier that targeted businesses employing young people under the age of 14 or 16.
Ambition was a given by today’s standards, but turned into an uphill struggle at the time. To date, the child labor amendment is still pending!
He called for the abolition of the army and navy at the start of our list, so it’s only fitting that he shuts it down. Lucas M. Miller wanted the nation he loved to be the United States of America. But also so much more.
He proposed to become cosmic by calling it the “United States of Earth”.
More from us: When the government poisoned industrial alcohol to stop ban smugglers
Electoral College notes Miller’s idea that it might be “possible for the Republic to develop through the admission of new states into the Union until every nation on Earth becomes part of it.”
Miller’s spaced idea didn’t take off.