Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Bradford J. Wood

Department Affiliation


Second Advisor

Joshua A. Lynn

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Jacqueline E. Jay

Department Affiliation



The Pennsylvania constitution of 1776 ignited an extensive and intractable debate that remained at the center of the state’s politics throughout the Revolutionary period. This debate encompassed disagreement over a broad range of questions relating to the relationship between government and society, many of which brought into question the implications of the concept of popular sovereignty for governmental structure and popular political agency. Competing notions regarding these issues, while expressed within a general framework of consensus concerning the source of political authority [the people], revealed fundamentally different visions of governmental order. Partisans presented these visions as inextricably connected to their respective understandings of the American Revolution. This debate suggests that constitutionalism and political ideology were closely connected to, and mutually informative of, one another during the Revolution and that factions within the Patriot cause perceived their differing visions of government and brands of constitutionalism as inseparable from the cause of the Revolution itself.