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American Sovereigns: The People and Americas Constitutional Tradition Before the Civil War challenges traditional American constitutional history, theory, and jurisprudence that sees today's constitutionalism as linked by an unbroken chain to the 1787 federal constitutional convention. American Sovereigns examines the idea that after the American Revolution, a collectivity -- the people -- would rule as the sovereign. Heated political controversies within the states and at the national level over what it meant that the people were the sovereign and how that collective sovereign could express its will were not resolved in 1776, in 1787, or prior to the Civil War. The idea of the people as the sovereign both unified and divided Americans in thinking about government and the basis of the Union. Today's constitutionalism is not a natural inheritance, but the product of choices Americans made between shifting understandings about themselves as a collective sovereign.



Publication Date



Cambridge, MA


Cambridge University Press


American Constitutionalism, Constituent Power, Popular Sovereignty, Sovereignty of the People, Constitution-Making, Consent of the Governed, Constitutional Tradition, Constitutional Revision, People's Sovereignty, Will of the People, Right of Revolution, Rule of Law




Previously published by Cambridge University Press.

View map of Selected American Determinist Settlements, 1770s-1780s

American Sovereigns: The People and Americas Constitutional Tradition Before the Civil War

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