Constitutions of Carolina, by John Locke Spread 0

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The fundamental constitutions of Carolina, John Locke (and others), 1681

The first version of this early constitutional document intended for the American colonies was written and published in 1669-1670 and later amended. The original authors were most likely Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Earl of Shaftesbury (1621-1683) and his amanuensis, the philosopher John Locke (1632-1704).

The ‘constitutions’ document was drafted on behalf of the Lords Proprietor of the Province of Carolina. Cooper was one of these eight Proprietors who effectively governed the colony from the Old World. The document was intended to shape the political and social structure of the New World, but was never freely adopted by the colonists themselves. Although the 120-constitutional statements in the work offered some local elements of suffrage (for example in promoting religious tolerance) they also enshrined a form of aristocratic rule and the owning of slaves.