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Amending America: DC Exhibit

Amending AmericaDates: March 11, 2016 – September 4, 2017
Location: Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, National Archives, Washington, DC

Only 27 times—out of more than 11,000 proposals—have Americans reached consensus to amend the Constitution.

It is difficult—but not impossible—to turn an idea into an amendment. So few amendments have been successful because our Constitution sets a high bar to pass amendments. So, what kinds of proposals achieve enough support to become a ratified amendment?

We have amended our Constitution to reshape fundamental rights, key legal powers, or elemental government structure. We have expanded voting through amendments to broaden participation. We have guaranteed our rights to experience more freedom. We have improved the structure of our government to be more secure.

We amend not only to solve current problems. We amend when Americans share an understanding of an essential concern that affects us all. We amend so that We the People can create a more perfect Union. When we add new ideas to our fundamental governing charter—our Constitution—we are Amending America.

Amending America BannerIn the National Archives Museum, a banner connects the Bill of Rights – on permanent display in the Rotunda – to the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, where the Amending America exhibition is on display. Printed on the banner are the more than 11,000 proposed amendments to the Constitution, arranged chronologically.


Discover Amending America

Download the free exhibition catalog, written by curators Christine Blackerby and Jennifer Johnson, available now for iPad, iPhone, and Mac.

Explore records from the extensive holdings of the National Archives relating to Amending America, chosen by the staff of the National Archives Foundation.

Learn how we amend the Constitution in an animated video, made in collaboration with HISTORYⓇ.

Read the full text of the 27 ratified amendments to the Constitution.

Amending America is presented in part by

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Lawrence F. O’Brien Family

Seedlings Foundation