Informations and abstract
Keywords: Declaration of independence, Enlightenment, American revolution, Rights of man, Declaration of rights, constitution
The State constitutions of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire (1776-1783) – and Vermont, out of the Confederation – have a historiographical importance not yet sufficiently highlighted. For the Enlightenment historiography, they show the Declaration of Independence (1776) did not represent only the revolutionary dream of an independent Union of States, but also the revolutionary dream of the Enlightenment: the constitutionalization of the rights of man. Those State constitutions represent the only realization, in America, of the Enlightenment constitutional project nipped in the Philadelphia Convention (1787). Then, they have great importance also for the historiography on the origins of American democracy: those State constitutions break the continuity between the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution in the American Revolution.