This book is a documentary history of the rights found in the American state constitutions adopted between 1776 and 1790. Despite the rich tradition of rights at the state level, rights in America have been identified almost exclusively with the national Bill of Rights. Indeed, there is no work that provides a comprehensive treatment of the early state declarations of rights. Rather, these declarations have been viewed as halting first steps towards the adoption of the national Bill of Rights in 1791. Bringing together the full text of the rights provisions from the 13 original states and Vermont, this book presents America’s first tradition of rights on its own terms and as part of this country’s heritage of rights. Early chapters will examine the sources of these rights and provide a comparative framework. An introduction to each chapter will review that state’s colonial history, focusing on any charters or legislation related to rights protections that help explain its constitutional provisions.