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The Third Amendment is a remix of ideas dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. As the lawyers William S. Fields and David T. Hardy wrote in the American Journal of Legal History, centuries of criticism against quartering had accrued in Britain before gaining traction in the empire’s colonies. After conflicts in North America, including King Philip’s War in the 1670s, New York in 1683 became the first of the colonies to provide legal protections against quartering. In the next century, colonists opposed to quartering would come to feel a desire to separate civilian life from military intrusion, a growing sense that the home was a protected private place, a hatred of standing armies, and a commitment to individual rights.
But another complaint also surfaced during the French and Indian War, which lasted from 1754 to 1763: Colonists worried that quartered soldiers might infect them with smallpox, a disease British soldiers deliberately transmitted to Native Americans.
The eventual Framers of the Constitution understood this fear. George Washington had battled smallpox himself in Barbados in 1751. The mother of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, another signer of the Constitution, wrote of her community in 1760 that a “violent kind of smallpox rages in Charles Town that almost puts a stop to all business.” James Madison never contracted the disease, but as suggested by the Madison biographer Ralph Ketcham, a number of his extended family members likely died from smallpox in the early 1760s, when he was just a boy.
Hermit wrote:You want them to actually read something and be well informed?
I admire your optimism.
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