The extraordinary decade from 1776 to 1787 marked the most substantial period of constitution writing in the history of the world. For the first time, men were able to determine their own systems of government; but the process involved considerable trial and error, leading to the creation of distinctive documents in the thirteen colonies. Among these, the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 and the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 stand out for their innovations in the constitution drafting process.

How did Pennsylvania and Massachusetts’ initial constitutions contribute to the idea of a “government of laws, and not of men”? Professors John Dinan and Robert Williams and Judge Jeffrey Sutton explore the drafting of America’s first constitutions.





As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.