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Founding the Far West is an important scholarly contribution to nineteenth-century American history. However, its analysis of how California, Oregon, and Nevada became states identifies a dynamic that fails to capture the tradition of American constitution-making. Only when state constitution-making is more widely studied can the dimensions of that tradition be understood in ways that will integrate the meaning of the state constitutional experience. So too, the recent interest in state constitutions as documents having an independent source of constitutional authority may curb the ingrained habit of studying American constitutional law from "the top down" and encourage scholars to bring a less national perspective to both constitutional law and history.

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The California Supreme Court Historical Society Yearbook



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