A Rare Look At The Original, Hand Written Wyoming Constitution
Posted on the Wyoming Secretary Of State Facebook Page.
Recently, Secretary Gray toured the Wyoming State Archives.
While there, he had the unique opportunity to see the original copy of the Wyoming State Constitution.
"It was profoundly humbling and moving to see the original Wyoming State Constitution," Secretary Gray said.
The Wyoming Secretary of State publishes copies of the State Constitution.
The document was handwritten.
Any surviving copy of the U.S. Constitution is almost faded out because it has been exposed to direct sunlight.
The current (and first) Wyoming Constitution was adopted on September 30, 1889, and ratified by voters on November 5, 1889.
The Wyoming Constitution has been amended eight times since 2006.
The most recent amendment to the Wyoming Constitution was approved by voters in 2022.
The U.S. Constitution was their primary model for the state constitution.
There are only a few changes in procedures and wording.
The delegates writing the state constitution were in a hurry. Wyoming would soon be admitted as a state and they needed to get something down on paper.
That meant that the Wyoming constitution was to be a cut and paste job, for time's sake.
The most notable difference between Wyoming’s and the U.S. Constitution is length.
At nearly 30,000 words long the Wyoming Constitution is more than six times as long.
The state's preamble, Article I, a Declaration of Rights in 39 sections, makes clear that “the State of Wyoming is an inseparable part of the federal union, and the constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.”
Article I “all power is inherent in the people” and that “all members of the human race are equal . . .in their inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Article VI, Section 1, protecting women’s rights to vote and hold office, as had been the law in Wyoming Territory since 1869.
That last provision was controversial when the Wyoming statehood question came before Congress in 1890 but was allowed to stand.
Women would not win the vote nationwide for 30 more years.
Wyoming would own all water within its borders, and allocate it to landowners for beneficial use.
Article IV, Section 11 of Wyoming’s constitution provides that the governor and four other officers—secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and superintendent of public instruction—all be elected statewide. The structure reduces and diffuses the power of the governor compared to most states.
You can read the entire Wyoming state constitution online, at this link.
Copies are available to order by calling (307) 777-7378 or SecOfState@wyo.gov.