Founding-Era Translations of the Constitution
Brooklyn Law School
James Madison 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
Date posted: August 26, 2014 ; Last revised: September 2, 2015