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10.10.01 Tucker, St. George, View of the Constitution of the United States, published in 1803

Notes Concerning the Author

St. George Tucker (1752–1827) was a distinguished Virginia patriot, soldier, teacher and jurist.  He was a colonel in the Virginia Forces in the War of Independence,  succeeded George Wythe as professor of law at the College of William and Mary, served on the Virginia supreme court, and was appointed a U.S. district judge by President Madison.

Our Review

View of the Constitution is a very important document for the proper understanding of the U.S. Constitution.   It was the first learned and systematic  commentary on the Constitution after its ratification.   It accompanied a four (later five) volume edition by Tucker  of  Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.    Tucker’s  edition of Blackstone was a basic training source and reference for American  lawyers for several decades.  In View  and his many other works, Tucker labored  to render Blackstone  in a form suitable for republicans.  While English law was cumulative and based on law cases, acts of Parliament, and precedents, Americans had written federal and state constitutions.  The people had clearly set down the powers and limitations of the rulers, so there was little room for complex interpretation.  For Tucker the U.S. Constitution was  a creation of the states, and   there was not the least doubt that a state could withdraw if that was its will.  Thus Tucker laid about the basic constitutional stance that was understood by Southerners (and many others) prior to the War for Southern Independence.

Availability of this Work

The Liberty Press has made readily available an edition in hardback and paperback of View of the Constitution of the United States, With Selected Writings, edited and introduced by Clyde N. Wilson.  This edition contains a rich selection of Tucker’s other writings as well as the View.