A Guide and Index for Finding Evidence of The Original Meaning of The U.S. Constitution in Early State Constitutions and Declarations of Rights

59 Pages Posted: 16 May 2020

See all articles by Gregory E. Maggs

Gregory E. Maggs

George Washington University Law School

Date Written: May 11, 2020

Abstract

When the original thirteen states declared independence from Great Britain, their former colonial charters became obsolete. Eleven states quickly addressed this situation by adopting state constitutions and, in some cases, declarations of rights to replace their charters. These state documents greatly influenced the drafting of the United States Constitution. Accordingly, scholars and judges often cite these early state documents when making claims about the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution. This Article provides a concise guide to this practice of finding evidence of the original meaning in these early state constitutions and declarations of rights. It explains the history of the documents, where to find them online, and how writers have used them to discern the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The Article includes a comprehensive index, with more than 1700 entries, to help researchers discover relevant provisions.

Keywords: constitution, original meaning, original intent, original understanding, state constitutions, state declarations of rights, state bill of rights, constitutional history

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Maggs, Gregory E., A Guide and Index for Finding Evidence of The Original Meaning of The U.S. Constitution in Early State Constitutions and Declarations of Rights (May 11, 2020). 98 N.C. L. REV. 779 (2020), GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-28, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2020-28, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3598487

Gregory E. Maggs (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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