The creation of a constitution is always a gradual process that being s about learning of and understanding of various societal dynamics and the difference inherent within communities. With every political development that takes place there is a critical implication to the constitution. The changes that were done on the American constitution between 1776 and 1789 clear portray the constitution making process as a learning process. I strongly believe that Wood in his book The American Revolution: A History Directions, is very accurate in depicting the change in the political landscape and how at first the colonialist got caught up n the revolutionary fever brought about y the state constitution but as the reality set in the began to realize that allowing too much democracy is not the best way to run the state and as a result established a central government that was stronger that the states.
Learning from experience and taking precaution has always been the part of human political, social and economic development. As a learning process certainly the formulation of the constitution has provided an opportunity, as aforementioned, to learn and include the social and political dynamics within the constitution. America as a nation owes its birth to the year 1776. At this time state that had gained independence from colonialism were making their constitutions marking the start of constitutional government in the world. It was also the first time in the history of the world large communities ware coming together to form a constitution to govern them. There were a total of 13 states that were making their government through written constitutions. In the same year, the first national constitution of sorts and the articles of confederation were created. A good number of colonialists participated in the creation of these documents and later met in Philadelphia to provide the draft of the United States constitution. The drafting of these constitutions served as the dress rehearsal for the states that would later create the Federal Convention in 1787. The process also served as a learning process for constitution-making process.
This initial effort of constitutional creation process though being formidable produced documents with numerous flaws. The new documents browed aspects of the former colonial government pillars. Though the drafters were novices in drafting bodies of fundamental laws but had no experience in writing constitutions or knowledge of the mechanics of a constitutional government. In addition the nation was at war and many of the best minds were preoccupied by the war and affairs of the Continental Congress. All these contributed to the creation of documents with numerous flaws, awkward phraseology and structural imperfection which brought about the need for change. Amazingly some of the documents served longer and with greater perfection than the authors had expected. The states of visionary and radical schemes of the government were totally rejected while the establishment of inherited rights and constitutional principles was general accepted. These constitutions however possessed nothing revolutionary other than being written.
Certainly the conventional at Philadelphia, popularly referred to as the Philadelphia Convention of 1787played an important role in the formation of the first congress in 1798. Great readers like John Adam who was widely read on the matters of government also made a great contribution. He had been persuaded by Richard Lee of Virginia at a meeting in Philadelphia in 1975 to put his ideas on the constitution on paper and he wrote them in a letter that was published and distributed in many places in America. As a contribution to the learning process he wrote only a sketch that allowed for later inclusions. He advocated for a house of commons chosen by people, an upper house chosen by the lower house and a governor elected by both houses. The governor would have extensive powers including veto and military command. He further suggested that when peace comes, the people should be allowed to elect the upper house and the Governor. He latter published more idea regarding the running of the government which were distributed in the colonies. He became widely acknowledged as a constitutional expert. In 1776 in Philadelphia, the delegates from Carolina were allowed to benefit from his advice on the formation of state government. In the same year the congress approved his idea and state were encouraged to adopt the new constitution. He was very influential in the creation of state constitution in his state, Massachusetts, which was the best and had checks and balances.
Most of the early constitutions of the states were written in haste. For instance the first two; the South Carolina and New Hampshire had numerous flows. These were made six months before the declaration of independence and only served for few years. They had been enacted for temporal basis. The other states wrote their constitutions under favorable conditions before and after the independence with each state learning form the other thus giving the constitution creation process its learning process qualities. Most of the states formed their constitution as permanent models of leadership. The whole process took a total of 16 years having started with a rudimentary instrument in New Hampshire in early 1776 and ended in April 1777 in the state of New York with a more sophisticated instrument. These constitutions did not benefit from specific special constitutional groups or conventions and were not subject to the people's opinions or approval. However, since the process involved learning and making improvements, in 1778 the Massachusetts abortive constitution was the first constitution to be subjected to popular vote but was rejected by the people. Later in 1780 a new constitution prepared by a constitution convention was subject to popular vote and received approval of the Massachusetts publics. This was the first constitution to be prepared by a constitutional commission and got subjected to popular vote. This made this constitution to stand out as the first one lying on a republican base. Furthermore, this provided the standards on which the State constitutions and the federal constitution were to be based. Indeed, the constitution making process was improving incrementally adding required skill, knowledge and standards every time that any unique or new activity was conducted.
Clearly, form 1776 to 1783 there were four different procedures that were used to crate the State constitutions. First constitutions were created only be legislative bodies that had no authority from the people to write constitutions that were never submitted to the public for approval. Constitution formed in such a manner included those of Virginia, New Jersey, and South Carolina that were formed in 1776 although South Carolina formed and adopted another one in 1778. The second method which was similar to the first one involved creation of constitution involved creation of constitution be legislative bodies that had authority from the public to create the constitutions but did not submit their products to public approval. The constitutions created in such a manner are those of New Hampshire, Georgia, Delaware, New York and Vermont.
Third was the creation of constitutions by legislative bodies with express authority form the people to do so and involved a formal or informal submission of the constitution to the people. Such constitution includes Maryland, North Carolina, Massachusetts (in 1778), Pennsylvania, and South Carolina (in 1778). However, only Massachusetts submitted the constitution formally to the people. Finally, the forth method involved the creation of constitutions using conventions that were chosen for this purpose and subsequently submitted the constitution to the people for approval. This last process was employed by the state of Massachusetts (1779-1780) and the state of New Hampshire (1779-1783). These States were making their second attempts to come up with more acceptable constitutions. Each process built on the previous process. Clearly, the early constitutions made significant contributions to the art of governance whereby the earliest framers of the constitution of America later adopted.
Each of the constitutions had unique feature that ware adopted in the America constitution and some survived future constitution amendment as state refined their constitutions. For instance, the Maryland constitution provided for indirect election of members of the uppers house, and the electoral collage that had been suggested in Virginia was adopted. In New York the governor was elected by the popular vote and the executive branch was had reasonable of powers. This is some way laid the foundation for the present day American presidency. The Massachusetts model of separation of powers, checks and balances which was the first one ever was also incorporated in the American constitution in 1787,
The defects present in the first constitutions also contained defects that the farmers of the American constitution benefited from. The first constitution had three major weaknesses which the Philadelphia convention tried as much as possible to avoid. In most cases some of the constitutions failed to provide adequate measure for separation of powers. They provided three separate branches of government without overlapping personnel thus pure separation without checks and balances and in most cases the legislature was very powerful. Second all the constitutions with the exception of that of New York did not establish an independent executive. The powers of governors were restricted and they were answerable to the legislature. Third, these constitutions failed to establish or state the constitution as the supreme law. This is also contributed to legislature supremacy. It was difficult for a court to declare a statue invalid for violating the constitution. Also notable is the fact that some constitutions failed to give provisions for amendments
In sum, the first constitutions provided a foundation for the formation of future state constitutions and the federal constitutions. They were a learning experience for constitutional famers and authorities. The Philadelphia convention benefited from the achievement of the first constitutions and their shortcomings alike.