When A Congressman Tried To Change The U.S.A.'s Name And Failed
In an alternate reality, a Wisconsin politician could have changed the name of the United States of America to the United States of Earth. However, this proposal failed, and the man behind it fell out of politics about as quickly as the amendment did.
Amending the United States Constitution is an intentionally difficult process designed to filter out any petty ideas. Whether or not this is effective is up for debate. Regardless, it means that since the Constitution became the law of the United States, only 17 amendments have been added after the original Constitution with the Bill of Rights was ratified.
This doesn’t mean that people haven’t tried to add other amendments. There are known to be nearly 12,000 proposed amendments, meaning that more than 99% of proposals fail. Searching through various failed amendments paints a humorous picture that shows what topics were on the minds of people and politicians throughout American history. Today’s subject, though, takes us to 1893, where Representative Lucas Miltiades Miller of Wisconsin came to Congress with an idea.
Miller’s constitutional amendment would change the name of the country to the United States of Earth. Despite sounding like the name of a government in a budget sci-fi universe, Miller’s proposed name change was not a joke. It came with logic that was idealistic, weirdly imperialistic, or both. He thought that the United States was going to continue to expand, and if this expansion continued, territories all over the globe would become states of the Union. If this happened, the country truly would be the United States of Earth.
Okay, no one in Congress seemed to take the idea that this needed to happen seriously. If it weren’t such a weird idea to begin with, Miller’s amendment would’ve likely been forgotten like every other proposed amendment. This wasn’t just a name change amendment, though. It was an amendment that covered other subjects like declaring that Congress would now “vote by electricity.” Also, the same amendment wanted to abolish the Army and Navy. Dude really wanted to cover a lot of unrelated things with one amendment.
To be fair, Lucas Miller might not deserve to be made fun of that badly. He submitted the amendment on behalf of constituents, so he might not have actually wanted to see a world where the electrified, army-less United States governs the entire planet. Maybe he was just being a good government official trying to enact the will of the people he served. Or maybe these ideas were all his. The world may never know.
Plus, Miller’s story is kind of a bummer in that it sort of just stops with the weird amendment. He could have been a more recognized figure in history. Miller was born in Greece in 1824 and was placed in an orphanage. He was adopted by an American colonel who was fighting in the Greek War of Independence. Miller’s adoptive father brought him back to the U.S., and he grew up to become a lawyer.
In 1891, after a long career in law, Miller was elected to serve in the House of Representatives. However, his American Dream (or, Earth Dream as he might prefer to say) was stopped because he has the rare distinction of only serving a single two-year term in the House. He was not reelected, so his legacy is a failed amendment that’s mildly humorous today. But, at least his proposal was memorable, unlike most of the thousands of others.
Top Image: Peter Griffen/PublicDomainPictures