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A Symphony of Government Design: Imitation in State Constitutions on the Southern Frontier, 1812-1845

Stephanie D. Moussalli

Rhodes College


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, H70

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Date posted: June 27, 2010 ; Last revised: July 7, 2010

Suggested Citation

Moussalli, Stephanie D., A Symphony of Government Design: Imitation in State Constitutions on the Southern Frontier, 1812-1845 (1995). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1631371 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1631371

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Stephanie D. Moussalli (Contact Author)
Rhodes College ( email )
2000 N. Parkway
Memphis, TN 38112
United States
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