The Third Amendment says the government cannot force Americans to let soldiers stay in their houses.
It states that “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.”
What Prompted the Third Amendment
When the British ruled over the colonies, they forced America to provide shelter for their soldiers. Between 1754 and 1763, the British sent thousands of soldiers to fight in the American colonies during the French and Indian War.
After the war ended, the soldiers stayed in the colonies. Two years later, in 1765, the British Parliament passed the Quartering Act. This law made the colonies feed and house the troops. The colonies had to provide barracks for the soldiers – if the barracks weren’t big enough, other buildings would have to be used, from stables to inns.
It was also up to the colonies to give the soldiers supplies like vinegar, salt, drinks, fire, utensils, candles, and bedding.
Citizens in the colonies were not happy about the law.
New York refused to obey the law, so Parliament passed the New York Restraining Act of 1767. This forbade the colony from passing any new bills until it agreed to follow the Quartering Act.
Tensions rose between the colonists and British troops with the Boston Massacre of 1770, when a group of soldiers killed several Americans.
Thomas Jefferson protested the practice in the Declaration of Independence, accusing King George II of “quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us.”
Why Have the Third Amendment Today?
Since the American Revolution, the Third Amendment has rarely been discussed.
While the amendment is not used often, its spirit is important. Government should not have the power to make citizens give up their property or home.