Today, in 1765, the British Parliament enacted the Quartering Act which required American colonists to provide housing for British Soldiers, as well as food, drink, fuel and housing. Despite popular belief, the British soldiers didn’t “appropriate” homes or foodstuffs, but the Quartering Act caused resentment to grow nonetheless. After the Boston Tea Party, the Quartering Act of 1774 gave the authority to enforce the Act to the Governors. It became one of the “Intolerable Acts” which led the colonists to revolt against British rule. British soldiers were quartered on Boston Commons and the tension led to the Boston Massacre. We all know what happened after that. The Third Amendment, “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” was passed as a direct result of that resentment.
Unlike the Ten Commandments, which are all to be obeyed equally (unless you’re Catholic LOL), some of the amendments within the Bill of Rights appear to be more important than others. Virtually no one asks for, or needs, their Third Amendment right to be protected. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments protect our rights with the Police, the Courts, and the Government. Nice protections if and when you need them, but the fact is that most Americans never do. The Ninth and Tenth are more philosophical in nature, designed to protect our capital F freedom. Pretty much every American would agree that the First is our most important Amendment. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, a free press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government. This group of rights impacts every American, everyday. The one that gets all the attention, however, is the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It is likely that the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights considered the need to bear arms important in a time when there was no police force, national guard or a standing army. The colonists already had guns—they had to eat, didn’t they? The irony here is that the impetus behind the creation of the Third Amendment, the Quartering Act, was a major provocation for the American colonists. Maybe, as a nation, we need to remember this and give the Third Amendment the respect it so clearly deserves, but never gets.