Daily Archives: February 9, 2017

An Easy Way to Memorize Important Amendments

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The constitution is the foundation of the United States but most people don’t know the important amendments or even the preamble.

I have a way that might help you remember them. I had to learn them while I went through school. (It’s funny. I can remember these amendments 5 years after graduation from a paralegal program in NYC, but I sometimes forget what I do as a legal assistant and I have to write them every year at review time!)

Remember an amendment is a physically change to the Constitution, which has been done 17 times so far since it’s inception.

To remember these important facts, it’s important to use mnemonic devices or find ways to lump them together.

Although everybody has different techniques, one I find effective is to lump things together or by using word association.

Here are my examples:

Amendments 13, 14, and 15: I lump these together because they are all about reconstruction after the Civil War.

13: Abolishing slavery

14: Citizenship for African Americans

15: All US citizens can vote

But not all work this way. Amendment 16, for instance, does not fit. I use a different technique for it.

I associate the number 16 with the driving age. This means 1 thing for parents: That is expenses for cars and insurance.

Expenses is a trigger word I use to remember this amendment, which is about income tax.

The 16th amendment — adopted Feb. 3, 1913, — gave Congress the ability to collect taxes on us.

Income tax was not in the original Constitution and was a delegated power and the federal government could use the tax and have vast amounts of resources.

Amendment 17: I just spell out the first two letters of seventeen, which is SE and I remember the word senate. But then I have to remember the two letters DD, which is direct democracy for the senate.

Put it all together and I remember that we vote for our senators directly rather than having them appointed through state legislators.

Amendments 18 and 21: I remember that 21 is the legal drinking age but and associate Amendment 18 and 21 with that.

Amendment 18 was prohibition, which occurred in the 1920s, and was a ban on booze.

Amendment 21 was a repeal of prohibition, wiping out Amendment 18.

As you can see from my samples, there are ways to make your education easier using associations to memorize lists.