The Constitution of 1812

Today, there is more and more talk about holding a state constitutional convention to address Louisiana’s recurring fiscal problems. The last time we did so was in 1973, and it was a major political event involving the election of delegates and weeks of hashing out various legal intricacies. That was not the case when our first state constitution was drawn up in 1812.

The 1810 census showed that theTerritory of Orleans (Louisiana’s name at the time) had about76,000 people, which was more than the 60,000 needed for statehood. When Congress authorized officials to proceed with the statehood process, adopting a state constitution was the first order of business.

Rather than having an elaborate constitutional convention, fortythree men volunteered to write the document. About half of them were newly arrived Englishspeaking Anglos and half were native French-speaking Creoles. The volunteers met in a New Orleans coffee house, which was little more than a tavern, and went to work.

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