Two Constitutions?
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Two Constitutions?

October 14, 2019

[ music ] [ Lori Williamson ] Hi, I’m Lori
Williamson with the collections department here at the
Minnesota Historical Society. And I’m here to talk to you today
about the two state constitutions that Minnesota has.
Wait, two state constitutions? Is that even legal?
Well, apparently so. Here they are.
Let’s take a look. Minnesota was organized and has been
governed as a state since 1858 by not one, but two legal founding documents.
There was nothing Minnesota nice about having two constitutions
instead there was intense rivalry between the democrat and republican
factions of the convention. It was so contentious that
they even refused even to meet together in one place.
A conference committee comprised of 5 democrats and 5 republicans
eventually met and laid out the structure and the language for the constitutions.
Ideas and principles contained in the document were formalized on what
it would do and how it would work. After a bitter debate the whole,
although separate conventions agreed to the proposed language.
However, they refused to sign the same official document.
In order to make it happen to versions of the final document were created.
And we thought politics today was ugly? There is no substantive difference in
meaning between the two constitutions. The only difference is that they’re
separate with some minor punctuation, grammatical and wording differences
and handwriting, of course. The republican document is
39 pages, the democratic 37. Also, the republican version has
the first three amendments signed by governor Ramsey.
Unfortunately there is not secret treasure map on one or the other.
Just the signatures of guys who couldn’t get along and the structure of our state.

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