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Alternative Visions of American Constitutionalism: Popular Sovereignty and the Early American Constitutional Debate

Christian G. Fritz, University of New Mexico - Main Campus

Abstract

This Article explores the revolutionary period and the early national period of American constitutionalism, examining popular sovereignty as the foundation of American governance and political power. It intends to challenge standard perspectives on American constitutionalism, in particular the notion that the United States Constitution was the model constitution and reflected the mature, complete understanding of how to translate revolutionary theory into republican practice. The Federal Constitution was not the culmination of the "correct" understanding of popular sovereignty, but merely one version that ultimately produced a distinct constitutional tradition. An alternative vision, however, existed, survived, and gave coherence to a rather different tradition of constitution-making and revision. The validity and vitality of that tradition has largely been muted by two hundred years of Federal Constitution worship.

Suggested Citation

Christian G. Fritz. "Alternative Visions of American Constitutionalism: Popular Sovereignty and the Early American Constitutional Debate" Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 24.2 (1997): 287-357.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christian_fritz/11