I am a huge fan of Sarah Vowell. Anyone who has read Holy Hullabaloos or heard me talk about it knows that it was while reading Vowell’s classic Assassination Vacation that I got the inspiration for doing my church/state road trip that became the topic of HH. Indeed, after Barack Obama took office, and I was making completely hypothetical recommendations for some top appointments, I recommended Vowell to be the next Archivist of the United States, which of course why would she ever want to do that? But still.
So, imagine my delight to find, on page 164 of her new book about Hawaiian history Unfamiliar Fishes (a great read so far, by the way), a mention of the Third Amendment, probably the oddest clause of them all, and the subject of the final chapter in The Odd Clauses. The Third Amendment, in case it’s not at the top of your head right now, is the one that says “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.” Vowell uses it to point out how sacred the early Americans viewed the concept of private property. As she says right after the Third Amendment sentence, “To the Don’t-Tread-On-Me generation and their offspring a property line is a line in the sand.”
And it’s just a bonus that she talks about the Third Amendment right after talking about the Sotomayor confirmation hearing, something that I’ve also expressed my views about at some length, but only in a ridiculous way.