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In this Article, Professor H. Jefferson Powell discusses the United States Constitution and the historical era during which it was written and adopted. He analyzes the Constitution not as a set of rules creating and organizing the federal government, but as a document that inspired political debate and the culture out of which our notions and understandings of constitutionalism grew. Professor Powell asserts that the "creation of a shared political and legal language" is perhaps one of the greatest achievements of founding-era Americans. Because deep political disagreement existed at the time, Professor Powell suggests that when we look to the founding-era period for insight into current constitutional questions, we should not search primarily for the founders' original intent. Instead, we can gain more insight from the study of the common terms and language-- the political grammar of early constitutional law-- in which debate was voiced.

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