American Indian Influence on the United States Constitution and its Framers

I have posted on the Social Sciences Research Network webpage the above entitled article that I published in 1993 in the American Indian Law Review.

You can download the article for free.

American Indians and their governments had a profound effect on many of our Founding Fathers and played an important role in shaping the U.S. Constitution. The Framers were influenced by both “positive” aspects of tribal governance that they were familiar with, and adopted into the Constitution, and by the “negative” aspects of the threat posed by the Indian Nations to the new United States. Many of these effects are reflected in provisions in our Constitution. This Article examines how native theories of government affected our Founding Fathers in drafting the U.S. Constitution. For example, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Thomas Paine were well aware of the inner workings of many tribal governments such as the Iroquois Confederacy, the Cherokee, and the Shawnee. In fact, an Iroquois chief suggested to Franklin in 1744 that the 13 colonies should form a union such as the six tribes had formed in the Iroquois Confederacy. Commentators state that Franklin’s 1754 Albany Plan for a colonial union was based on the Iroquois League.

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