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THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURES IN THE NEW NATION

The Drafting of State Constitutions

By the end of 1777, 10 new state constitutions had been written. Written into these constitutions were safeguards to prevent the evils that Americans had seen in the colonial governments established by the British. The governor was the most oppressive figure in many colonies; as a result, many new constitutions gave limited power to the governor, who was usually elected by the state assembly. All states except Pennsylvania and Vermont adopted a bicameral legislature, with much power usually given to the upper house. Most states also lowered the property qualifications for voting, thus allowing people to vote who had not voted before the Revolutionary War. Many historians comment that writers of these constitutions were making a conscious attempt to broaden the base of American government. Most state constitutions also included some form of a bill of rights.

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