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Bills of Rights Before the Bill of Rights

Early State Constitutions and the American Tradition of Rights, 1776-1790

Authors: GALIE, PETER J., Bopst, Christopher, Kirschner, Bethany

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  • Provides the first in-depth study of state-level constitutional rights as documents that elucidates the rich rights tradition in America long before the ratification of the national Bill of Rights
  • Collects together the full text of bills of rights from the 13 original states and Vermont between 1776 and 1790 along with a systemic analysis of their content
  • Updates the literature of constitutional rights scholarship in the last quarter of the 20th century with new and changing perspectives found in the discipline
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  • ISBN 978-3-030-44301-6
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About this book

This book is a documentary history of the rights found in the American state constitutions adopted between 1776 and 1790. Despite the rich tradition of rights at the state level, rights in America have been identified almost exclusively with the national Bill of Rights. Indeed, there is no work that provides a comprehensive treatment of the early state declarations of rights. Rather, these declarations have been viewed as halting first steps towards the adoption of the national Bill of Rights in 1791. Bringing together the full text of the rights provisions from the 13 original states and Vermont, this book presents America’s first tradition of rights on its own terms and as part of this country’s heritage of rights. Early chapters will examine the sources of these rights and provide a comparative framework. An introduction to each chapter will review that state’s colonial history, focusing on any charters or legislation related to rights protections that help explain its constitutional provisions. This work will make it possible for students, scholars, and interested citizens to rediscover the first fruits of the American Revolution.


About the authors

Peter J. Galie is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Canisius College in Buffalo in New York, USA. He is the author of Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York (996), the coauthor (with Christopher Bopst) of The New York State Constitution, 2nd ed. (2012), and the co-editor (with Bopst and Gerald Benjamin) of New York's Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness (2016).

Christopher Bopst is Special Counsel at Wilder & Linneball, LLP in Buffalo in New York, USA. He is the coauthor (with Peter J. Galie) of The New York State Constitution, 2nd ed. (2012), and the co-editor (with Galie and Gerald Benjamin) of New York's Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness (2016).

Bethany R. Kirschner is an Associate at Woehrle Dahlberg Jones Yao PLLC in Fredericksburg in Virginia, USA. She has conducted extensive research on early bills of rights and is the author of an article on Eighth Amendment jurisprudence.

Reviews

“Scholars of American constitutionalism and political thought have long needed and will benefit a great deal from this comprehensive analysis of the original state bills of rights. In Bills of Rights Before the Bill of Rights, Galie, Bopst, and Kirschner show that founding-era state constitutions and declarations of rights are worthy of attention not merely as precursors to the federal bill of rights but because they embody a coherent and distinctive tradition of rights protection and governance that differs in key respects from the understanding that took hold at the federal level.” —John Dinan, Professor of Political Science, Wake Forest University, and author of The American Constitutional Tradition

 

“A long tradition in constitutional law dismisses the earliest state bills of rights as amateurish documents, haphazardly drafted during the chaos of the American Revolution. This invaluable book teaches us otherwise. Through a meticulous excavation of the philosophical, religious, and legal thought of the age, the authors reconstruct a now lost set of understandings and practices that allow them to decode these documents, revealing a fascinating, internally coherent narrative of robust popular sovereignty that deserves an important place in the American constitutional family tree.” 

James Gardner, SUNY Distinguished Professor, University of Buffalo School of Law, and author of Interpreting State Constitutions: A Jurisprudence of Function in a Federal System

 

 “Brilliant analysis...a very impressive work of scholarship and an important contribution to our understanding of state constitutions within our federal constitutional structure of dual sovereignty."

Randy Holland, Associate Justice, Delaware Supreme Court (1986-2017), and author of The Delaware State Constitution

 

Bills of Rights Before the Bill of Rights shows that a rich discourse of rights talk preceded the adoption of the Federal Constitution and found expression in the declarations of rights of early state constitutions. It is a major contribution to our understanding of rights in the American context.”

G. Alan Tarr, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and former director of the Center for State Constitutional Studies, Rutgers University, and author of Understanding State Constitutions

Table of contents (18 chapters)

Table of contents (18 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $84.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-030-44301-6
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $109.99
price for USA

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Bills of Rights Before the Bill of Rights
Book Subtitle
Early State Constitutions and the American Tradition of Rights, 1776-1790
Authors
Copyright
2020
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-44301-6
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-44301-6
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-030-44300-9
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIII, 394
Number of Illustrations
3 b/w illustrations
Topics

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