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Citizens in Communities

6 Lessons


The Framers of the first American state constitutions drew heavily upon the practices of colonial assemblies, contemporary political ideas, the English common law tradition, and the effects of the western frontier.

Colonial assemblies, especially in Virginia and South Carolina, developed legislative rules that secured the sanctity of vested interests and prevented the most populous areas of their colony from dominating the rest. For example, in South Carolina following an uprising in the 1760s known as the Regulator Movement, colonial assemblymen commenced requiring “supermajorities” well beyond 50 percent of votes to pass laws. Consequently, the practice protected the vested interests of some minority settlements since those groups exercised a check upon laws deemed detrimental to their communities.