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This work examines the relation between the concept of ""the people"" and the design of the American constitution. It asks such questions as: Who is included among the people?; How are the people politically configured?; How may the people act?; and how do the people relate to government structures? The author considers historical material from the antebellum period, such as the opinions of the US Supreme Court justices in the Dred Scott case, and different perspectives from the writings and speeches of Frederick Douglass. Influential thinking from the founding period is covered; and there is also an examination of issues raised by claims of state interpretive autonomy. The conclusion models various dimensions of the constitutional order as a whole.