Early American Voting Demographics
Mark.Scarberry at pepperdine.edu
Wed Aug 22 13:43:58 PDT 2007
On the relaxed standards for voting for ratification convention
delegates, see Akhil Amar's America's Constitution: A Biography at 7 &
17-18 (and especially the note to page 7, found on pages 503-05).
Mark S. Scarberry
Pepperdine University School of Law
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Jack Rakove
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 12:58 PM
To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: Early American Voting Demographics
Two quick points, re observations made by Paul Finkelman in his
South Carolina did have a ratification convention, like every other
state save R.I., proverbial home of Jews, Turks, and infidels. What made
SC somewhat exceptional, I think, is that its assembly, endowed with a
strong collective ego concept, did conduct a fairly substantive debate
of its own on the Constitution on its merits, prior to adopting the
legislation for calling a convention.
The one state that did not originally hold a convention was R.I., but it
went the theory of popular sovereignty, as advanced by the framers, one
better by subjecting the Constitution to a popular referendum, where it
was resoundingly rejected.
I haven't checked this systematically, so this last point is subject to
correction, but it is my understanding that most of the states, in their
enabling legislation for the ratification conventions, relaxed the usual
suffrage requirements so that unpropertied adult males could generally
vote for convention delegates, and this in turn illustrates the extent
to which they distinguished the need to obtain a broader consent to a
fundamental constitutional act from the somewhat lesser (though still
quite broad by 18th-c. standards) for popular consent to the ordinary
acts of government.
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