||The Federal Constitution was not the first constitution drafted and passed in
the United States of America.
Since the spring before independence was declared by the colonies in 1776, the
various states gathered in local assemblies to hammer out laws by which they
would govern themselves. Connecticut and Rhode Island simply rewrote their old
colonial charters, ex-ing out any references to the king and parliament. But
the remaining states drafted entirely new constitutions.
When delegates arrived in Philadelphia for the assembly in 1787, most were
well-versed in the various laws that had been created around the states.
The Massachusetts constitution was created largely through the influence of
John Adams. It mixed the various branches of government and made for a series
of checks and balances between them—a system that would be emulated in the
The Pennsylvania Constitution was probably the most democratic. It provided
suffrage for all freemen over the age of 21 and emphasized the legislative
branch over the executive and judicial. In fact, there was to be no governor;
instead a "presiding officer" would serve at the bidding of the legislature.
New Jersey's constitution allowed women the right to vote—an allowance that
had more to do with property rights than a liberal attitude toward women. New
Jersey would rescind this suffrage soon after the turn of the 19th century.
A number of constitutions had bills of rights attached, including Virginia's,
which was written primarily by George Mason. Mason would become one of the
leading opponents of the federal constitution, in part, because it lacked a
bill of rights.