Constitution 101: Using a Founding-Era Dictionary

Like any legal document, the words of the Constitution mean the same thing today as they were understood to mean the moment it was ratified and given legal force.

For some of the text, definitions have changed significantly over time, and using a dictionary from that era is essential.

A commenter on our Facebook page is taking things in the right direction by suggesting this:

However, Bouvier’s wasn’t printed until 1839, much too late to be considered a resource for the framing of the Constitution decades earlier. But the Founders were all quite familiar with Giles Jacob’s law dictionary, which can be found here:

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The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. For more information visit the Tenth Amendment Center Blog.

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