Personalty Interests at the Constitutional Convention: New Tests of the Beard Thesis

34 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2008

See all articles by Jac C. Heckelman

Jac C. Heckelman

Wake Forest University - Department of Economics

Keith L. Dougherty

University of Georgia

Date Written: November 1, 2008

Abstract

Charles A. Beard ([1913] 2004) argued that the U.S. Constitution was created to advance the personalty interests of many of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Because delegate votes on individual clauses at the Constitutional Convention were not publicly recorded, prior empirical analyses have been limited to inferred votes on a specific set of unrelated clauses. We extend this inquiry by inferring all votes related to currency and debt issues which Beard put forth as the prime issues for those who owned personalty. Our analysis on these votes generates little support for a narrow version of the Beard thesis, which states that all personalty groups voted in a unified coalition and supported final passage of the Constitution. Our analysis provides reasonable support, however, for a broader interpretation that personalty and realty interests affected delegate voting behavior at the margin.

Keywords: U.S. Constitution, delegates, debt, state currency

JEL Classification: D7, H1, N41

Suggested Citation

Heckelman, Jac C. and Dougherty, Keith L., Personalty Interests at the Constitutional Convention: New Tests of the Beard Thesis (November 1, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1293082 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1293082

Jac C. Heckelman (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7505
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States
(336) 758-5923 (Phone)
(336) 758-6028 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.wfu.edu/~heckeljc/jac.htm

Keith L. Dougherty

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602
United States
1-706-542-2989 (Phone)
1-706-542-4421 (Fax)

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