Components & Amendments of the Georgia Constitution

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  • 0:01 Georgia State Constitution
  • 1:01 History
  • 2:47 Components & Amendments
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, explore the history and components of the Georgia state constitution and discover how the desire for states' rights affected that. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

The Georgia State Constitution

You wouldn't expect to find one of the youngest state constitutions in the U.S. in one of the oldest states. But, that's exactly where it is. Georgia was one of the original 13 colonies, established in 1732 and named after King George II of Great Britain. However, it has the second youngest state constitution in the country. Rhode Island has the youngest.

So, what's going on down in the land of sweet tea and southern hospitality? Were they too focused on perfecting the recipe for Southern barbecue to write a constitution? Not exactly.

This constitution is young because it's the tenth one Georgia has drafted. Since its creation, Georgia has been one of the most economically, socially and politically influential states in the union and one of the leading proponents for the power of state's rights since the United States was founded. No surprise, their state constitution is a testament to just that.

History of the State Constitution

When Georgia became a colony in 1732, they pretty quickly developed a strong sense of independence, being somewhat isolated from the other colonies. So, it was no surprise that after the Revolutionary War, they were some of the biggest advocates for ensuring that every state got to write its own state constitution, a document detailing the administration and governance of that state. In essence, each state was set up like a miniature nation, with its own judicial, legislative and executive branches.

Even before statehood, the Georgia colony had a few charters and similar documents defining the rights of citizens and powers of the colony. However, the first state constitution was written in 1777, not long after the colonies declared independence.

They wrote an entirely new state constitution in 1789 after the U.S. Constitution was ratified and re-wrote it again in 1798. Every time this happened, the Georgia legislature had to vote to create a constitutional convention and formally vote on the new document. This happened again in 1861, when Georgia formally seceded and joined the Confederate States and then again in 1865, 1868 and 1877 as the country tried to put itself back together after the Civil War ended.

Since then, Georgia created an entirely new constitution three more times, in 1945, 1976 and 1983. This last one, which was created in order to streamline the previous one and alter the process for making amendments, is Georgia's current constitution.

Components and Amendments

So, what's in this current version of the Georgia state constitution? Well, the constitution has 11 articles describing the rights of Georgia citizens and power of the state government.

Article One is Georgia's Bill of Rights, a list of rights entitled to state citizens, much like the U.S. Bill of Rights. Georgia's Bill of Rights is pretty much like the U.S. one, but with a few additional liberties to ensure individual rights, like the Freedom of Conscience, which is the right to worship God according to one's own conscience without interference and a clause for religious opinion, on top of the standard Freedom of Religion.

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