Founding-Era Translations of the Constitution

Christina Mulligan

Brooklyn Law School

Michael Douma

James Madison University

Hans Lind

Yale University

Brian Patrick Quinn


August 24, 2014

Constitutional Commentary (Forthcoming)
Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 402

Before its ratification, the United States Constitution was translated into German and Dutch for the German- and Dutch-speaking populations of Pennsylvania and New York. Although copies of both the German- and Dutch-language translations have been preserved, they have largely escaped analysis — and public awareness — until now. This paper provides historical context for these translations and analyzes how they might aid our interpretation of the U.S. Constitution in the present day.

Supplemental to this article is an appendix containing the German and Dutch translations, as well as extensive commentary on the translations, available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2486282.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 66

Keywords: constitution, federal constitution, united states constitution, translation, Pennsylvania-Dutch, Dutch-American, German-American, history, founding era, framing

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Date posted: August 26, 2014 ; Last revised: September 2, 2015

Suggested Citation

Mulligan, Christina and Douma, Michael and Lind, Hans and Quinn, Brian Patrick, Founding-Era Translations of the Constitution (August 24, 2014). Constitutional Commentary (Forthcoming); Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 402. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2486301 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2486301

Contact Information

Christina Mulligan (Contact Author)
Brooklyn Law School ( email )
250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States
Michael Douma
James Madison University ( email )
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
United States
Hans Lind
Yale University ( email )
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
Brian Patrick Quinn
Independent ( email )
No Address Available
United States
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