Jump to Content Jump to Main Navigation

Part I State Constitutions in American Constitutional Federalism, 2 The Pre-federal State Constitutions: The Founding Decade

From: The Law of American State Constitutions

Robert F. Williams

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 07 May 2021

Most of the American states adopted constitutions in the decade prior to the federal constitutional convention. There were two major “waves” of state constitution-making. The first wave was hasty, generally not based on elected constitutional conventions, and the constitutions had little in the way of checks and balances. The chapter uses the Pennsylvania constitution to illustrate this wave. The second wave was more deliberate, often utilized elected constitutional conventions, and developed constitutions with more in the way of checks and balances. The Massachusetts constitution is used to illustrate this wave. Early constitution-making in each of the states is briefly reviewed, in light of these differing philosophies. Finally, the chapter reviews the influences of this “founding decade” of state constitution-making on the development of the federal Constitution, concluding that the Pennsylvania example was rejected and in Massachusetts example was adopted.

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.