American Sovereigns: The People and America’s Constitutional by Christian G. Fritz

By Christian G. Fritz

American Sovereigns is a path-breaking interpretation of America's political historical past and constitutionalism that explores how americans struggled over the concept that the folks might rule because the sovereign after the yank Revolution. nationwide and kingdom debates approximately executive motion, legislations, and the people's political powers show how american citizens sought to appreciate how a collective sovereign-the people-could either play the function because the ruler and but be governed by way of governments in their personal selecting.

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78 Today’s view that legitimate constitutions require constitutional conventions followed by popular ratification would have been news to American constitution-makers of the revolutionary period. Few state constitutions were popularly ratified before the federal Constitution. Many after 1787 were also promulgated without ratification. Only one of the seven constitutions establishing new states in the Northwest Territory between 1801 and 1830 were ratified by the people. Of the 119 constitutions adopted between 1776 and 1900, forty-five of them (roughly 38%) lacked popular ratification.

The first constitutions for Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware echoed this sentiment. Massachusetts and New Hampshire used similar wording, stating that government officials were the people’s “substitutes and agents . . at all times accountable” to the people. This was not a burst of revolutionary enthusiasm. Massachusetts’s 1780 constitution both provided for “instruction” and spoke of the right of the people to make “requests” (rather than “prayers”) of the legislature. 26 The idea that the sovereign should scrutinize government was not simply an aspiration expressed in many constitutions.

14 The written constitutions adopted in the 1770s demonstrated – with a dramatic clarity rarely seen in the world before then – that Americans possessed a unique opportunity. ” A congressional delegate from Connecticut, Oliver Wolcott, described America’s constitution-making in 1776 as “Real” because it was not the theoretical expression of the people’s will. ” In Europe, constitutions reflected power granting limited liberty to the people. ” This differed from the bargaining model of government reflected in natural law and English constitutional doctrine.

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