How Many State Constitutions?

Perhaps I shouldn't get too carried away with mapmaking, but I have now made another map, only a day after this one about state legislatures. In that post yesterday, I said I'd probably make new maps about the number of legislators in each state, or the ratio between numbers in the house and senate. This time, however, I found something that's probably much more interesting: the number of state constitutions that each state has had.

Now, this is definitely related to my pretty recent post about how ironic it is to love the U.S. Constitution but hate the U.S. government. In it, I concluded that if you have a problem with how the Federal Government works, you probably should want to change its founding document - not enshrine it forever. This map shows which states have changed their founding documents, and how many times they've done it.

The clear image is one of southern states having had the largest number of constitutions: Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana and Georgia all have had five or more. However, out of the 26 states east of the Mississippi, only four of them have never changed their original constitution: Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and Wisconsin. Out of all the older states in the Union - those at least 150 years old - the vast majority have had more than one constitution, and most have changed it at least twice.

Why do we think then, in the face of our own states so willingly changing constitutions, that there is no good reason to change the federal constitution - the most important in the country? Our first federal constitution - the Articles of Confederation - lasted less than a decade. Now its replacement has been in use for 224 years, and people talk as if it's going to be effective forever.

Comments