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Louisiana Constitutions Across History

60 min

Essential Question

  • How have Louisiana’s constitutions changed over time, and how do they compare to the U.S. Constitution?


  • Students will explore the structure and goals of the various Louisiana constitutions from throughout the state’s history. 
  • Students will analyze the similarities and differences between the Louisiana state constitutions and the U.S. Constitution. 
  • Students will identify key principles in both the current Louisiana state constitution and the U.S. Constitution that are the cornerstones of the American system. 


  • Begin by asking students, What are some key principles a state constitution should establish to ensure a just and free society? List their ideas on chart paper or an online collaborative tool. Encourage responses like separation of powers, checks and balances, individual rights, and representative government. 
  • Show students the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution and ask, “How does this document connect to the principles we just listed?” Guide students to see how the U.S. Constitution establishes a framework to achieve these goals. 


Divide the class up into ten small groups and give them each a poster board. Counting the current one, there have been ten Louisiana Constitutions. Assign each group to research one of the constitutions. If class size doesn’t allow for ten groups, do not do not assign the 1913 constitution, as it has the shortest section of info.  

Give students the Louisiana Constitutions webpage as a starting point for research, but they should use the internet to find further information about their constitution. Students should make a bullet list of information they find about their assigned constitution. Details should include: 

  • The year of ratification. 
  • The context for why the people of Louisiana wanted a new constitution. (For the group assigned the first constitution of 1812, what were the events during the leadup to statehood?) 
  • What were some of the main features of the new constitution?  
  • How is it similar to the U.S. Constitution?  How is it different? 

Scaffolding Note: Offer adapted primary source excerpts or clear-language online resources to provide scaffolding and support for struggling readers. 

Once students are finished researching and writing, have each group walk around and spend a few minutes looking at each poster. They should take notes as they review each one. 

Reconvene the class and facilitate a discussion. 

  • What are some recurring themes across the Louisiana constitutions? 
  • How do these constitutions reflect the state’s changing demographics, economy, and social issues? 
  • How do they compare and contrast with the U.S. Constitution in terms of structure and principles? 


  • At the end of the discussion, ask students to explain how Louisiana’s constitutions demonstrate both continuity (upholding core principles) and change (adapting to new circumstances). 
  • Return to the essential question: How have Louisiana’s constitutions changed over time, and how do they compare to the U.S. Constitution? Students can share their responses in writing or video. 

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