America's Unknown Constitutional World

Christian G. Fritz

University of New Mexico School of Law

October 2008

Common-Place, Vol. 9, No. 1

This article examines the existence of an understanding of constitutionalism that rested on the sovereignty of the people that prevailed in America before the Civil War and yet that runs counter to modern conventional assumptions. Today the idea that we know the will of the sovereign only through the exclusive use of specific formal procedures - such as elections and constitutional amendment - seems self-evident. For the revolutionary generation this was not immediately apparent. The recent experience of their successful revolution clearly taught them that proceduralism was not the only way to recognize when the sovereign had spoken. The fact these ideas seem so unorthodox today has led many scholars to ignore or dismiss their hold on Americans of an earlier generation, even though ample evidence demonstrates Americans acting on the basis of ideas that form part of what remains a largely unknown constitutional world in America.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: American Constitutionalism, Dorr Rebellion, Federal Framers, Popular Sovereignty, Proceduralism, Revolutionary Constitutionalism, Shays Rebellion, Sovereignty of the People, Whiskey Rebellion

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Date posted: December 8, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Fritz, Christian G., America's Unknown Constitutional World (October 2008). Common-Place, Vol. 9, No. 1 . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1312087

Contact Information

Christian G. Fritz (Contact Author)
University of New Mexico School of Law ( email )
1117 Stanford, N.E.
MSC11 6070
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

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