Did Thomas Jefferson Support the Idea of Revising the U.S. Constitution?

The United States Constitution has been amended 27 times since it was ratified in 1788. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, offer protections for individuals and place restrictions on the power of government. Most of the later amendments focused on expanding civil rights protections. But Thomas Jefferson believed that the U.S. Constitution should be updated more regularly. Back in 1816, Jefferson suggested that constitutions should be reviewed every 19 years or so, to coincide with a new generation reaching adulthood. He thought this would ensure that they adapted to reflect new developments in science and society.

We the people:

  • Thomas Jefferson didn’t participate in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, a four-page document produced on parchment, but he was vocal about how the process should work.

  • Jefferson studied mortality rates in order to propose a regular interval of time between constitutional conventions. He felt that new generations should be able to adapt to changes and not be handcuffed by the past.

  • The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was actually the first constitution for the United States. It was drafted by the Second Continental Congress between 1776 and 1777.

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