Founding-Era Conventions and the Meaning of the Constitution’s 'Convention for Proposing Amendments'

76 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2012 Last revised: 10 Apr 2013

See all articles by Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes

Date Written: April 22, 2012


Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, two thirds of state legislatures may require Congress to call a “Convention for proposing Amendments.” Because this procedure has never been used, commentators frequently debate the composition of the convention and the rules governing the application and convention process. However, the debate has proceeded almost entirely without knowledge of the many multi-colony and multi-state conventions held during the eighteenth century, of which the Constitutional Convention was only one. These conventions were governed by universally-accepted convention practices and protocols. This Article surveys those conventions and shows how their practices and protocols shaped the meaning of Article V.

Keywords: constitution, constitutional law, constitutional amendments, Article V, convention, constitutional convention, amendments convention, Article V convention, constitutional amendments

JEL Classification: K1, K20, K30, K49

Suggested Citation

Natelson, Robert G., Founding-Era Conventions and the Meaning of the Constitution’s 'Convention for Proposing Amendments' (April 22, 2012). Florida Law Review, Vol. 65, 2013. Available at SSRN: or

Robert G. Natelson (Contact Author)

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes ( email )

727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)


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