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Idaho State Constitutional Convention 1889

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Idaho State Constitutional Convention 1889 Idaho State Constitutional Convention 1889

The Constitution of Idaho (1889) was written from July to August 1889. Following the 1889 Agreement and without the authorization of an Enabling Act by the U.S. Congress, 72 delegates from 18 counties met in Boise City to draft the state’s foundational text.

Like other state constitutions of a similar time, the Convention did not begin with a full, coherent draft of a constitution (such as the Virginia Plan in the 1787 Federal Constitutional Convention), nor did it follow the open proposition approach taken by other contemporary state constitutional conventions, such as the Washington (1889) and the Arizona (1910). In those constitutions, delegates proposed constitutional text in the form of propositions, which were referred to standing committees appointed to consider certain subjects. These committees drafted reports or articles from these propositions, which were returned to the Convention for approval. The Idaho Convention adopted an approach to constitution writing that depended heavily on the work of standing committees. Rather than being presented to the Convention by individual delegates, articles originated in the standing committees. After consideration in the Convention, the articles were enrolled as the Constitution of Idaho, approved by the Convention, and ratified in November 1889.

To construct the Quill timeline, the editors consulted a number of sources, most notably the Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention of Idaho, as well as copies of the propositions deposited in the Idaho State Archives. These documents provided a detailed overview of what occurred in each plenary sitting of the Convention. The committee sittings were modelled from information that could be inferred based on the plenary record. Therefore, the committees provide a rich opportunity for future scholarship.

Compared to other state constitutional conventions, the Idaho Convention was uncomplicated in its committee approach. However, users may be interested in how pieces of proposed constitutional text circulated throughout the Convention. This procedure is captured in a document event’s “Related Events” tab. A more general overview of documents’ journeys throughout the Convention is provided by the “Calendar View”. The “Document Library” view provides a zoomed out look at all documents that were introduced in the Convention and will be compelling to those users who are approaching the project with an interest in particular documents.


Senior Documentary Editor

Quill Project

Pembroke College, Oxford.

July 2023.

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