The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775-1789

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR THE WRITING OF THE STATE CONSTITUTIONS

Even if we make allowance for the fact that the main elements of the new governments were simply adapted from the old colonial forms, the labor of writing the State constitutions in 1776-77 was one of forbidding magnitude. In the State that was the very keystone of the Union, Pennsylvania, the party animosities aroused during this task brought on a convulsion which threatened civil war. In another rich and powerful State, New York, the perplexities of constitutional theorizing gave birth to several institutional monstrosities that it required two generations of bitter experience to wipe out. In still other States, such as North Carolina, the glaring imperfections of the new government half disabled it during the Revolutionary struggle. But the task was approached with ardor, for the radical patriots saw in it the chief opportunity and reward of the early phase of the revolutionary conflict.

It was the first time in the world's history that a large group of communities had begun the formation of their own governments under written constitutions. It gave such instruments, indeed, an importance they had never before possessed. We are taught to look upon the written political compact, embodying the two ideas of representative government and full equality before the law, as Anglo- American in origin, the Mayflower Compact being its first true exemplification. Certainly no other people had ever regarded their written constitutions with quite the proud jealousy with which the eighteenth century Americans regarded their charters. According to John Locke, political rights existed independently of the mere scratches of ink and pen on paper, but in practice, the charters had been the bulwarks of the people against oppression, the stepping stones to a larger freedom. The settlers did not look upon them as revocable grants, but as agreements inviolable except by mutual consent. It was precisely because the three leading New England Colonies had been founded upon the charter principle and had

-117-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775-1789
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 734

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.