Reply To: Ratifying States' Interpretation of the Constitution


No, the semantics of your assumption aren’t wrong. Yes, this was the way that people were told the Constitution would be read — for example, in the Virginia Ratification Convention, as I detail both in JAMES MADISON AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA and in VIRGINIA’S AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Yes, there were differing interpretations sold by Federalists in different states, viz., Massachusetts ratifiers were sold an antislavery take on the Constitution while South Carolina ratifiers were sold the opposite. In ordinary contract law, the absence of a “meeting of the minds” would render the contract invalid. No, no one has written on this subject, although I could certainly see myself doing so.