Today In History – May 7

The Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution was a historic milestone in the country’s political evolution, marking a pivotal moment in its democratic history. After nearly two centuries since it was first proposed, the Amendment was finally ratified on May 7, 1992, after the required number of states ratified it.

The Twenty-seventh Amendment was initially introduced in 1789 as part of the original Amendments to the Constitution. However, it took over two hundred years before it finally garnered the necessary approval from the states, making it the longest time span in the country’s history for a constitutional amendment to be ratified.

The Amendment was designed to address the issue of congressional compensation, stipulating that “No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” It aimed to prevent lawmakers from giving themselves excessive pay and benefits without public scrutiny, providing more transparency and accountability in the legislative process.

The history of the Twenty-seventh Amendment’s ratification is noteworthy, as it reflects the perseverance and diligence of the American people in upholding the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Unfortunately, despite numerous attempts to amend the Constitution over the years, this Amendment remained largely ignored and forgotten for much of America’s history.

However, in the 1980s, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, Gregory Watson, lobbied for the Amendment’s ratification after getting a C on a paper about the proposed Amendment. In an effort to prove to his professor that the proposed Amendment was important, he began a letter-writing campaign to state legislators. Watson’s efforts galvanized support across the country, leading to renewed interest in the Amendment’s ratification.

With the help of grassroots organizing and political pressure, the Twenty-seventh Amendment finally received the necessary endorsement from the requisite number of states. On May 7, 1992, Michigan became the thirty-eighth state to ratify the Amendment, achieving the required three-fourths threshold. The Twenty-seventh Amendment was finally incorporated into the US Constitution nearly two hundred years after its initial proposal.

In conclusion, the ratification of the Twenty-seventh Amendment was a watershed moment in American political history, demonstrating the power of citizen action and constitutional reform. Moreover, it served as a testament to the enduring principles of democracy, transparency, and accountability, which remain fundamental to the American political system. Today, the Twenty-seventh Amendment stands as a symbol of progress and a reminder of the importance of defending the values that underpin our democracy as we look forward to the future.

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