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10 Weirdest Failed Constitutional Amendments


9
Amendment to Outlaw Dueling, 1828
Twenty-four years after what's perhaps America's most famous duel, Congress contemplated banning the practice. Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
Twenty-four years after what's perhaps America's most famous duel, Congress contemplated banning the practice. Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

To our modern sensibilities, dueling seems ridiculous. Why would two otherwise sane adults sort out a disagreement by engaging in combat with swords or guns? There was a time, however, when dueling was such a problem that Congress considered amending the Constitution in order to ban it.

Dueling has a surprisingly extensive history in 18th and 19th century America. Even the most casual fans of history (or musicals) are probably aware of the 1804 duel in which Aaron Burr famously shot Alexander Hamilton over insults hurled during Burr's race for New York governor. But there were others.

President Andrew Jackson had participated in numerous duels before his election in 1828, which, coincidentally, was the same year an amendment was proposed to ban the practice. It failed, and politicians continued to duel with surprisingly few consequences. In 1838 Whig congressman William Graves killed Democratic foe Jonathan Cilley in a duel, and though Congress formally scolded Graves, they refused to expel him.

Eventually, state laws and common sense prevailed, so now shooting someone over a disagreement is generally frowned upon [source: Vile].


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