Origins of the Federal Constitution presents an intensive introduction to the historical sources of the Constitution. By reference to original source documents, the class considers the common law and other influences on early American government and justice, such as Locke, Montesquieu, and Blackstone’s Commentaries; the colonial experience leading to and immediately following the American Revolution; documents and debate directly relevant to formation of individual constitutional provisions and amendments; and the initial experience and understanding of the Constitution, through to Story’s Commentaries, in addition to later amendments. The class will also consider the influence and use of this material on modern interpretation of the Constitution.
A coursepack of original documents will be provided to you at no cost. These have largely been selected and edited from The Founders’ Constitution, edited by Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner (University of Chicago Press 1987).