That Illegal Constitution!

You've probably seen this kind of complaint before: the establishment of U.S. Constitution was done illegally under the Articles of Confederation. I will just give a brief sample from one web site:

"Therefore the delegates had exceeded their instructions and were acting illegally."

"The ratification procedure was patently illegal..."

"Some say bribery and other illegal or at least immoral tactics were used to push the Constitution through."

What few of these folks seem to make much of, though, is the fact that, per the previous constitution (you know, the one involving the king in parliament and all that), the Articles of Confederation were themselves pretty darned illegal, and seemed to be "pushed through" with a bunch of shooting.


  1. Show me teh law! As tax cheaters say. Where can I read that previous constitution?

  2. Of course, if you listen to some "libertarians," the Revolution itself was illegal because it didn't perfectly conform to modern libertarian standards.

  3. I would have thought it was illegal because it was against the law!

  4. What's more, the theory behind both Declaration and Constitution is a popular sovereignty that holds "the people" can dissolve a government and create a new one whenever they deem necessary, though of course the questions of who the people are and how they may go about dissolving and creating governments go largely begged. Forrest McDonald argues in Novus Ordo Seclorum that the idea was that the Constitution was getting approved by the ultimate source of sovereignty, the people-in-the-states, which the Articles could no more restrict than could king or Parliament (or state governments, but that raises fresh problems).


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