27 February 2019

ARTICLE: Colin Jay WILLIAMS, "Unity in a Time of War: New York's First State Constitution, 1776–1777", New York History 2019

(image source: Project Muse)

Historians have long ignored the primary reason why rebel leaders wanted to replace New York's colonial government two years into the American Revolution. Devised during a conflict that raged across the state's southern and northern counties, New York's first constitution was not established to instill class privileges in a foundational legal code, as Carl Becker had argued in his 1909 Political Parties in the Province of New York from 1760–1776.1 With occupation magnifying long-standing geographic [End Page 38] divides, the men on the committee who drafted the document and their compatriots in the convention who voted it into existence structured a political system they believed would unify the state's disparate regions. New York's 1777 constitution was written and implemented to save the state from fracturing.
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