and their arms to repel or repair, aggressions on the authority of their constitutions. (James Madison, 1792)16 It is remarkable that since its articulation in 1787, the U.S. Constitution has only been amended 27 times. Ten of these amendments, of course, occurred within the first two years of the Constitution’s existence, the subsequent 17 being added to the text over the last 223 years. This feat is remarkable when one considers that over this same period of time, only one of the original 13 states, Massachusetts, has not completely rewritten its constitution. All of the other original 13 states have rewrit- ten their constitutions at least once, and most have done so multiple times. The following illustrates the number of times each of the original 13 states has completely rewritten its constitution since 1787: Connecticut—2 Delaware—4 Georgia—9 Maryland—4 Massachusetts—0 New Hampshire—3 New Jersey—3 New York—4 North Carolina—4 Pennsylvania—4 Rhode Island—2 South Carolina—6 Virginia—717 Several commentators have remarked about the place of the Constitution in the collective historical narrative of the American people: There’s a strong strand of divine-guidance thinking about American exceptionalism. People have certainly seen the texts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as the equiva- lent of a secular religion, with the idea then that you don’t challenge these texts. (Mary Beth Norton, Cornell University, 2010) In a country as fragmented as the United States is—we don’t have a national religion, a really shared ethnicity—the kinds of Introduction xv
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