Founding-Era Translations of the U.S. Constitution
31 Constitutional Commentary 1 (2016).
53 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2014 Last revised: 25 Jan 2017
Date Written: August 24, 2014
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.
Keywords: constitution, federal constitution, united states constitution, translation, Pennsylvania-Dutch, Dutch-American, German-American, history, founding era, framing
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