They are usually significantly lengthier than the United States Constitution, which is just 4,543 words long. State constitutions are all more than 8,500 words lengthy because they delve into greater depth on the day-to-day interactions between the government and the people. They include provisions such as those relating to elections, justice systems, agriculture, and many other topics in addition to those covered in the U.S. Constitution.
The original draft of the U.S. Constitution included a bill of rights to limit the power of the federal government. The draftsmen of the Constitution were well aware that not all states had existing constitutional limits on government power, so they included statements about the need for state constitutions to establish limits on government authority if they wanted to retain their own freedom. As a result, almost every state constitution has at least some provisions found in only that state's constitution. These "state specific" provisions include rights related to free speech, press, religion, habeas corpus, trial by jury, and others.
Some scholars have suggested that the lack of a single national government leaves room for the states to enact different laws on issues such as crime, punishment, and other matters within their jurisdiction. Others point out that although there may be differences between states' laws, they work together through the federal government to achieve shared goals such as national security or interstate commerce.
State constitutions are often longer than 8,500 words since they go into greater depth on the day-to-day interactions between the government and the people. The Vermont Constitution, enacted in 1793 and now 8,295 words length, is the shortest. It is also one of the most effective constitutions in terms of protecting individual rights.
The New Hampshire Constitution, adopted in 18 NH Constitution is 9,926 words long and it was written by James Sullivan. It is considered the first true American Constitution because it predates the U.S. Constitution by about a year and it helped shape the future U.S. Constitution through its adoption of features such as executive departments, a bicameral legislature, and trial by jury.
The Montana Constitution, adopted in 1889, is 10,004 words long and it was written by John McLean. It has been called the "Magna Carta of the Frontier" for its explicit guarantee of individual rights including freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. It also includes a bill of rights with specific protections for those freedoms.
The Wisconsin Constitution, adopted in 1848, is 12,095 words long and it was written by Henry Webster. It has been called the "Freedom Constitution" because of its protection of individual rights including freedom of speech, press, worship, and assembly.
State Constitutional Length State constitutions are lengthy. The Vermont Constitution is the shortest, with 8,419 words, almost 2,000 more than the federal Constitution. Louisiana has the longest, at 184,053 words. The average length of the forty-eight current constitutions is around 27,000 words, or four times the length of the Declaration of Independence.
The original draft of the United States Constitution contained a long preamble that discussed rights granted to Americans by their creator, which were then spelled out in detail. The preamble was deleted from the final version of the document submitted to the states for ratification. Today, many constitutional scholars believe that it functioned as a sort of legal umbrella that provided a foundation for the new government to be built upon. It also included references to religious freedom and justice for all citizens, which were removed during the Federalist Papers debate over whether to approve the Constitution.
When the people of each state ratified the Constitution, they added language of their own to form their own unique documents. Some state constitutions only include a few modifications from the national charter, while others adopt nearly identical provisions. The constitutions of several states were actually copies of the federal Constitution with some changes to accommodate local conditions. For example, the Virginia Constitution of 1776 copied most of the language from the federal Constitution, but included a bill of rights to protect individual liberties. Other states adopted complete overhauls of the federal system.
The Maryland Constitution is roughly 47,000 words long (including annotations), which is substantially longer than the average length of a state constitution in the United States, which is approximately 26,000 words (the United States Constitution is about 8,700 words long). The Maryland Constitution was originally written in English and then translated into Latin by the convention delegates who drafted it.
The Maryland Constitution goes into considerable detail on many issues, including education, finance, government structure, and civil rights. It also includes an extensive list of crimes that are prohibited under Maryland law. The Declaration of Rights consists of about 100 words in the Maryland Constitution; it lists several rights that are deemed important by legislators and voters alike. These include the right to bear arms, the right to freedom of speech, and the right to religious liberty. Finally, the Maryland Constitution includes a bill of rights that is generally similar to its federal counterpart. This section guarantees rights such as the right to confront one's accusers, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to due process of law.
The original Maryland Constitution was adopted in 1776 and has been amended 20 times since then. The most recent amendment, which was ratified in 1971, changed the method for electing senators to equal numbers of residents in each congressional district and provided for single-member districts for the House of Delegates and the Senate.
4,543 words The Constitution is 4,543 words long, including the signatures, and is printed on four pages measuring 28-3/4 inches by 23-5/8 inches each. It is 7,591 words long, including the 27 modifications. The original text was written in American colonial English and based largely on the language of the day, which was somewhat different from modern English.
There are several theories about why the length of the Constitution was chosen. One theory is that it was designed to avoid lengthy documents that might distract readers or cause them to lose interest. Another theory is that the length was selected to allow for easy distribution among the colonists for sign-off. A third theory is that the length was determined by the number of letters in the names of the founders: Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and Jay. These were the only names given as possible candidates for president, so they must have been included for any presidency to occur. However, James Madison proposed another theory: that the length was based on the number of paragraphs needed to cover certain subjects. He said this was necessary because some ideas were too important or interesting to be covered in a single sentence.
Whatever the case, the length of the Constitution reflects the need for brevity and simplicity in order to ensure its acceptance by the colonies.