Research on Myths about Adoption of the 1787 Constitution

These articles address the oft raised claim that the 1787 Constitutional Convention ran away, that the Founders went beyond their authority.

Yes, the Constitution was adopted legally, April 11, 2017 by Rob Natelson as published in The Hill.

An old myth is showing up in the media again… the myth that delegates to the 1787 Constitution Convention violated their trust… that they produced a new constitution when they were simply empowered to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation.  This article explains why the myth is pure fiction.

 

The Constitutional Convention Did Not Exceed Its Power and the Constitution is not “Unconstitutional” – April 2016 – by Robert Natelson.

This article was first published in 2013. Judging by recent claims in the media, there is still a lot of life in the old tale that the 1787 federal convention “ran away” and that the Constitution was unconstitutionally adopted.

 

Constitutional Convention: John Jay Letter Shows Its Power Came from State Legislatures, not Congress – January 15, 2017 – by Robert Natelson.

A January 7, 1787 letter written by John Jay to George Washington helps debunk the persistent myth that (1) Congress called the Constitutional Convention under the Articles of Confederation, (2) the convention drew its power from Congress, and (3) the convention exceeded its power when it recommended a new Constitution rather than merely proposing amendments to the Articles.

 

Defying Conventional Wisdom: The Constitution Was Not the Product of a Runaway Convention – by Michael Farris

Published in Volume 40, Issue 1 of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

 

What Connecticut’s Authorizing Documents Tell Us About the Constitutional Convention—and About Modern Misinterpretations – October 11, 2016 – by Robert Natelson.

On May 11, 1787, the Samuel Huntington, the governor of Connecticut, addressed his state legislature about the pending Constitutional Convention.  Shortly thereafter the legislature adopted a law governing Connecticut’s participation in the gathering.  His remarks and the ensuing legislative resolution are instructive.

 

Who Called the Constitutional Convention? Answer: The Commonwealth of Virginia – October 7, 2016 – by Robert Natelson.

In interstate convention practice a “call” is an invitation for state representatives to meet at a particular time and place to discuss certain designated issues.  The documentary record shows that the caller of the Constitutional Convention certainly was not Congress.

 

This Resolution Suggests Congress Did Agree to a Broad Constitutional Convention – October 27, 2016 – by Robert Natelson.

On April 23, 1787, the Confederation Congress extended the post office franking privilege to all commissioners who were about to attend the Constitutional Convention.  In other words, Congress gave to convention delegates the same privilege to send and receive free mail that its own members enjoyed.  Read why this is important.

 

Did Congress Approve the Constitution? A Member’s Letter Says “Yes” – November 9, 2016 – by Robert Natelson.

Some people argue the Constitution was adopted illegally.  They assert that the Confederation Congress needed to approve the document, but never did.  But principles of law tell us that they are wrong.  So does a rarely-mentioned letter from a member of the Confederation Congress.