Skip to main content

The Oldest Constitution?

June 2024
1min read

The oldest written constitution still going is not the Constitution of the United States but the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of 1780. That constitution not only is the oldest still in use but also served as the pattern for the federal Constitution and other democratic constitutions that have followed.

In the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 are established the following, which also appear in the federal Constitution:

1. The philosophy of democratic government here.

2. The frame of government with the three separate branches, and the twohouse legislature.

3. The definition of rights.

Were it not for John Adams through the Constitution of Massachusetts and his treatise of 1787, the United States might possibly have had a parliamentary form of government patterned after the English one to which the drafters of the Constitution had been accustomed.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.