Original Intent in the First Congress

35 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2006

See all articles by Louis J. Sirico

Louis J. Sirico

Villanova University School of Law


Most of the literature on this country's Founding Era concludes that at least in the very early years, the Founders did not look to original intent to construe the Constitution. However, this study looks not at what the Founders said they believed, but how they acted. In the First Federal Congress, the members did use arguments based on original intent. This study identifies their originalist arguments and categorizes them into five rhetorical categories. It concludes that these arguments did not dominate the debates, but were one type of argument among many.

Keywords: constitutional law, legal history, First Congress, Original Intent

Suggested Citation

Sirico, Louis J., Original Intent in the First Congress. Missouri Law Review, Vol. 71, No. 3, Summer 2006; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2006-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=945204

Louis J. Sirico (Contact Author)

Villanova University School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
610-519 7071 (Phone)
610-519 6282 (Fax)

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