Can Government Force People to Quarter Soldiers During Wartime?

The Third Amendment was introduced to the First Congress in 1789.
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The practice of housing, or quartering, soldiers during wartime grew out of a basic need during the Revolutionary War. Without military bases in the former colonies, British soldiers who were seeking shelter would force their way into private homes of American citizens. To protect citizens from being similarly coerced again, the anti-quartering amendment was added to the U.S Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791.

1 The Third Amendment

The Third Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “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.” In other words, private citizens cannot be forced to quarter soldiers during peacetime. During wartime the quartering of soldiers would only be mandated if approved by legislature.

2 The Forgotten Amendment

The Third Amendment was designed as a way to protect a citizen’s property and right to privacy. Although there were reports of soldiers being quartered up until the end of the Civil War the amendment, which is sometimes called “the forgotten amendment,” is the least-litigated of all constitutional amendments. It has never been used as the basis of a Supreme Court case, and has been broached in only a handful of lawsuits.

Jennifer Brozak earned her state teaching certificate in Secondary English and Communications from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Pittsburgh. A former high school English teacher, Jennifer enjoys writing articles about parenting and education and has contributed to Reader's Digest, Mamapedia, Shmoop and more.