Visit Georgia’s historic constitutions

Did you know that the State of Georgia is currently operating under its 10th constitution?  That is a lot of serious writing and revision for our state to keep up with the times.  Remember, a constitution is a foundational document that establishes the government and defines its powers and the rights of the people who are governed. We are currently governed under the 1983 constitution.

The Georgia Archives, located in Morrow, Georgia, recently announced an exhibition containing six of the ten constitutions!  These constitutions are not normally available for viewing all together, so this is a special opportunity.  The exhibit closes on November 13.

The display includes the the constitution of 1789, which gave the Georgia government a structure more parallel to the then recently created federal government.  When Georgia returned to the United States following the Civil War, the state was required to promulgate a new constitution–the constitution of 1868, which is also on view.  In addition to the constitutions, there are some supporting documents included in the exhibition.

When a new constitution is considered, there is often a constitutional convention which is followed by a referendum.  This means that elected officials have a meeting to draft a proposed constitution, agree on the proposed language, and then ask the people to vote on the proposal to approve (or disapprove) the constitution.  The transcripts of the Select Committee on Constitutional Revision, 1977-1981 (culminating in the 1983 constitution) are available through the Georgia Government Publications database.

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