Georgia State Constitution

State Seal of GeorgiaThe state of Georgia was governed by two different constitutions in the 1780s. The First, which was established in 1777, lasted for twelve years until significant revisions were made in 1789. Being the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, Georgia remolded their state constitution so that coincided with the ideals of the federal government’s constitution.

The Georgia State Constitution of 1777 was the first written law created by the citizens of Georgia, which guaranteed individual rights of religion, press, and trial by jury. However, this constitution was put into effect without being ratified by the citizens of Georgia. The Georgian government was composed of three branches, the executive, judicial and legislative, each of which could not impose power directly on the other. Representatives were elected from the people, by the people, and remained in office for one year starting in December. The representatives analyzed state laws and how they affect the well being of the citizens. Those who elected the representatives were required to be male over the age of twenty-one, had possessions that were valued ten pounds or more, and a resident for six months. Members of the military voting were not allowed appear in elections in their military attire because the writers thought that it prevented the elections to be free and equal. If one was qualified to vote but decided to neglect this responsibility, there was a fine of no more than five pounds. This Constitution adhered to the twelfth Article of Confederation, meaning that citizens were obligated to repay their debts. This constitution is significant in that Georgia was the first state to have articles in their constitution that banned the practice of entail and primogeniture which was that the first born, in the direct line of the father, inherited all the estate. It is also significant in that it banned any clergyman from being in any seat of the legislature. This shows that the writers felt like there needed to be a clear divide between church and state in Georgia. This constitution was never amended until it was completely changed in October of 1789.

When the United States Constitution was ratified in 1789, the citizens of Georgia felt the provisions needed to be modified to be coherent to the country’s new constitution. Adjustments were made on the exact figures of certain things, but did not modify the overall ideals of the first constitution. The adjustments did not change the existing bicameral legislature, an executive branch, and a judicial branch. However, the General Assembly had the right to choose a governor. Senators were required to be at least twenty-eight years of age, have lived in the United States for nine years, and to lived in the country they were elected for six months preceding the election. Their term lasted for three years, as opposed to the one-year term limits created by the previous constitution. Representatives had to be twenty-one years old, have lived in the United States for seven years and to have lived in the state for two years. The General Assembly was obligated to meet on the first Monday in November of every year. The governor held office for two years and was similar to the president of the United States in that he was the Commander-in-Chief of Georgia. In the case of the governor’s death, the president of the Senate assumed the governor’s responsibilities and duties. The citizens retained their freedom of religion, press and trial by jury. Unlike the Constitution of 1777, the Constitution of 1789 was amended on numerous occasions because of how short it was. It was also amended many times because the people of Georgia did not approve of how involved the state legislature was in the Yazoo land fraud which was an over speculation of land in the Mississippi territory that eventually led the famous Trail of Tears. This constitution was eventually remodeled in 1798 and thenagain seven other times.

The Constitution for the state of Georgia in 1777 was not consistent with any other major document of that time. The changes made from 1777 to 1789 allowed for a unified sense of leadership between the state and local governments


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