Personalty Interests at the Constitutional Convention: New Tests of the Beard Thesis
34 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2008
Date Written: November 1, 2008
Charles A. Beard ( 2004) argued that the U.S. Constitution was created to advance the personalty interests of many of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Because delegate votes on individual clauses at the Constitutional Convention were not publicly recorded, prior empirical analyses have been limited to inferred votes on a specific set of unrelated clauses. We extend this inquiry by inferring all votes related to currency and debt issues which Beard put forth as the prime issues for those who owned personalty. Our analysis on these votes generates little support for a narrow version of the Beard thesis, which states that all personalty groups voted in a unified coalition and supported final passage of the Constitution. Our analysis provides reasonable support, however, for a broader interpretation that personalty and realty interests affected delegate voting behavior at the margin.
Keywords: U.S. Constitution, delegates, debt, state currency
JEL Classification: D7, H1, N41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation