A Symphony of Government Design: Imitation in State Constitutions on the Southern Frontier, 1812-1845
Stephanie D. Moussalli
The original constitutions of six Southern frontier states are compared: Louisiana's (1812), Mississippi's (1817), Alabama's (1819), Arkansas's (1836), Florida's (1839), and Texas's (1845). Identical or similar elements are examined, and the historical circumstances leading each constitutional convention to adopt this group of provisions are recounted. The duplicated elements include some of the structures of the three branches of government, some individual rights, the methods of choosing seats of government, adaptations to epidemic disease, and means of enforcing fiscal accountability. Primary sources are the constitutions, the constitutional convention journals, territorial papers, and some legislative records, letters, and newspapers. This historical study of constitutional convergence conveniently summarizes parts of antebellum Southern frontier history and also examines the diffusion of a constitutional core of techniques of self-government.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 169
Keywords: state constitutions, Southern frontier, government designs, Louisana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, statehood, territorial history
JEL Classification: E62, H11, N41, H70working papers series
Date posted: June 27, 2010 ; Last revised: July 7, 2010
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