The modern age of the written constitution begins with the American Revolution. Before that there had been a number of experiments with such documents but none of them had been of lasting importance or influence. Oddly enough, the only great state which had experimented with a written constitution was England, the only world power which is today without a written constitution. And certainly the Instrument of Government, in effect for a few months during the period of the Commonwealth, had little more influence outside England than it had upon the institutions of that country. The real ancestor of the written constitution is the American colonial charter, together with such variations of the charter as the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the Fundamental Articles of New Haven and Penn's Frame of Government. Although the charters themselves were, in a legal, and usually an actual sense imposed from above and always subject to being rescinded without the consent of the colonists, they accustomed the colonists to written frames of government. Furthermore, the schemes of government provided for in the charters were the natural starting points from which the Americans began to develop their own forms of government when civil war became revolution.
During the Revolution each of the states, except Rhode Island and Connecticut which continued to use their seventeenth century charters with a few slight changes, framed and adopted at least one constitution. With the exception of the Massachusetts constitution and the second New Hampshire constitution these were not submitted to the
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Publication information: Book title: A Source Book of American Political Theory. Contributors: Benjamin Fletcher Wright Jr. - Editor. Publisher: The Macmillan Company. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1929. Page number: 116.
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