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The Constitution of May 3, 1791 ( ; ) is generally regarded as Europe's first and the world's second modern codified national constitution, following the 1788 ratification of the United States Constitution (look also: Corsican Constitution). The May 3, 1791, Constitution was adopted as a "Government Act" (Polish: Ustawa rządowa) on that date by the Sejm (parliament) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was in effect for only a year, until the Russo-Polish War of 1792.

The May 3 Constitution was designed to redress long-standing political defects of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and its traditional system of "Golden Liberty" conveying disproportionate rights and privileges to the nobility. The Constitution introduced political equality between townspeople and nobility (szlachta) and placed the peasants under the protection of the government, thus mitigating the worst abuses of serfdom. The Constitution abolished pernicious parliamentary institutions such as the liberum veto, which at one time had put the sejm at the mercy of any deputy who might choose, or be bribed by an interest or foreign power, to undo legislation passed by that sejm. The Constitution sought to supplant the existing anarchy fostered by some of the country's magnates with a more democratic constitutional monarchy. The document was translated into Lithuanian.

The adoption of the May 3 Constitution provoked the active hostility of the Commonwealth's neighbors. In the War in Defense of the Constitution, the Commonwealth was betrayed by its Prussian ally, Frederick William II, and defeated by Catherine the Great's Imperial Russiamarker allied with the Targowica Confederation, a cabal of Polish magnates and landless nobility who opposed reforms that might weaken their influence. Despite the Commonwealth's defeat and the consequent Second Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the May 3 Constitution influenced later democratic movements. It remained, after the demise of the Polish Republic in 1795, over the next 123 years of Polish partitions, a beacon in the struggle to restore Polish sovereignty. In the words of two of its co-authors, Ignacy Potocki and Hugo Kołłątaj, it was "the last will and testament of the expiring Motherland."


The May 3 Constitution responded to the increasingly perilous situation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, only a century earlier a major European power and indeed the largest state on the continent. Already two hundred years before the May 3 Constitution, King Sigismund III Vasa's court preacher, the Jesuit Piotr Skarga, had famously condemned the individual and collective weaknesses of the Commonwealth. Likewise, in the same period, writers and philosophers such as Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski and Wawrzyniec Grzymała Goślicki, and Jan Zamoyski's egzekucja praw (Execution-of-the-Laws) reform movement, had advocated reforms.

By the early 17th century, the magnates of Poland and Lithuania controlled the Commonwealth—or rather, they managed to ensure that no reforms would be carried out that might weaken their privileged status (the "Golden Freedoms"). They spent lavishly on banquets, drinking bouts and other amusements, while the peasants languished in abysmal conditions and the towns, many of which were wholly within the private property of a magnate who feared the rise of an independent middle class, were kept in a state of ruin.

Many historians hold that a major cause of the Commonwealth's downfall was the peculiar institution of the liberum veto ("free veto"), which since 1652 had in principle permitted any Sejm deputy to nullify all the legislation that had been adopted by that Sejm. Thus deputies bribed by magnates or foreign powers, or simply content to believe they were living in some kind of "Golden Age", for over a century paralysed the Commonwealth's government. The threat of the liberum veto could, however, be overridden by the establishment of a "confederated sejm", which operated immune from the liberum veto. The Four-Year, or "Great", Sejm of 1788–92, which would adopt the Constitution of May 3, 1791, was such a confederated sejm, and it was due only to that fact that it was able to put through so radical a piece of legislation.

The Enlightenment had gained great influence in certain Commonwealth circles during the reign (1764–95) of its last king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, and the King had proceeded with cautious reforms such as the establishment of fiscal and military ministries and a national customs tariff. However, the idea of reforms in the Commonwealth was viewed with growing suspicion not only by the magnates, but also by neighboring countries, which were content with the Commonwealth's contemporary state of affairs and abhorred the thought of a resurgent and democratic power on their borders.

Accordingly Russia's Empress Catherine the Great and Prussia's King Frederick the Great provoked a conflict between some members of the Sejm and the King over civil rights for religious minorities. Catherine and Frederick declared their support for the Polish nobility (szlachta) and their "liberties," and by October 1767 Russian troops had assembled outside the Polish capital, Warsawmarker. The King and his adherents, in face of superior Russian military force, were left with little choice but to acquiesce in Russian demands and during the Repnin Sejm (named after unofficially presiding Russian ambassador Nicholas Repnin) accept the five "eternal and invariable principles" which Catherine vowed to "protect for all time to come in the name of Poland's liberties": the free election of kings; the right of liberum veto; the right to renounce allegiance to, and raise rebellion against, the king (rokosz); the szlachta's exclusive right to hold office and land; and a landowner's power of life and death over his peasants. Thus all the privileges of the nobility that had made the Commonwealth's political system ("Golden Liberty") ungovernable were guaranteed as unalterable in the Cardinal Laws. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth thus became an effective protectorate of the Russian Empiremarker. Nonetheless, several minor beneficial reforms were adopted, and the need for more reforms was becoming increasingly recognized.

Not everyone in the Commonwealth agreed with King Stanisław August's acquiescence. On February 29, 1768, several magnates, including Kazimierz Pułaski, vowing to oppose Russian intervention, declared Stanisław August a "lackey of Russia and Catherine" and formed a confederation at the town of Barmarker. The Bar Confederation began a civil war with the goal of overthrowing the King and fought on until 1772, when overwhelmed by Russian intervention.

The Bar Confederation's defeat set the scene for the next act in the unfolding drama. On August 5, 1772, at St. Petersburgmarker, Russia, the three neighboring powers—Russia, Prussia and Austria—signed the First Partition treaty. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was to be divested of about a third of its territory and population (over 200,000 km² and 4 million people). This was justified on grounds of "anarchy" in the Commonwealth and her refusal to cooperate with its neighbors' efforts to restore order. The three powers demanded that the Sejm ratify this first partition, otherwise threatening further partitions. King Stanisław August yielded under duress and on April 19, 1773, called the Sejm into session. Only 102 deputies attended what became known as the Partition Sejm; the rest, aware of the King's decision, refused. Despite protests, notably by the deputy Tadeusz Rejtan, the First Partition of Poland was ratified.

The first of the three successive 18th-century partitions of Commonwealth territory that would eventually blot Poland from the map of Europe shocked the inhabitants of the Commonwealth, and had made it clear to progressive minds that the Commonwealth must either reform or perish. Even before the First Partition, a Sejm deputy had been sent to ask the French philosophes Gabriel Bonnot de Mably and Jean-Jacques Rousseau to draw up tentative constitutions for a new Poland. Mably had submitted his recommendations in 1770–71; Rousseau had finished his (Considerations on the Government of Poland) in 1772, when the First Partition was already underway.

Supported by King Stanisław August, a new wave of reforms were introduced. The most important included the establishment, in 1773, of a Komisja Edukacji Narodowej ("Commission of National Education")—the first ministry of education in the world. New schools were opened in the cities and in the countryside, uniform textbooks were printed, teachers were educated, and poor students were provided scholarships. The Commonwealth's military was modernized, and a standing army was formed. Economic and commercial reforms, previously shunned as unimportant by the szlachta, were introduced, and the development of industries was encouraged. The peasants were given some rights. A new Police ministry fought corruption. Everything from the road system to prisons was reformed. A new executive body was created, the Permanent Council (Polish: Rada Nieustająca), comprising five ministries.

In 1776, the Sejm commissioned Chancellor Andrzej Zamoyski to draft a new legal code, the Zamoyski Code. By 1780, under Zamoyski's direction, a code (Zbiór praw sądowych) had been produced. It would have strengthened royal power, made all officials answerable to the Sejm, placed the clergy and their finances under state supervision, and deprived landless szlachta of many of their legal immunities. Zamoyski's progressive legal code, containing elements of constitutional reform, facing opposition from conservative szlachta and foreign powers, failed to be adopted by the Sejm.


Events in the world now played into the reformers' hands. Poland's neighbors were too occupied with wars — Prussia with France, Russian and Austria with the Ottoman Empire — and with their own internal troubles to intervene forcibly in Poland. A major opportunity for reform seemed to present itself during the "Great" or "Four-Year Sejm" of 1788–92, which opened on October 6, 1788, and from 1790—in the words of the May 3 Constitution's preamble—met "in dual number", the newly elected Sejm deputies having joined the earlier-established confederated sejm.

While a new alliance between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Prussia seemed to provide security against Russian intervention, King Stanisław August drew closer to leaders of the reform-minded Patriotic Party. A new Constitution was drafted by the King, with contributions from Stanisław Małachowski (Marshal of the Sejm), Ignacy Potocki, Hugo Kołłątaj, Stanisław Staszic, the King's Italian secretary Scipione Piattoli, and others.

The draft Constitution's advocates, under threat of violence from the Sejm's Muscovite Party (also known as the "Hetmans"), and with many contrary-minded deputies still away on Easter recess, managed to set debate on the Government Act forward by two days from the original May 5. The ensuing debate and adoption of the Government Act took place in a quasi-coup d'etat: many pro-reform deputies arrived early and in secret, and the royal guard were positioned about the Royal Castle, where the Sejm was gathered, to prevent Muscovite adherents from disrupting the proceedings.

The Constitution bill ("Government Act") was read out and passed overwhelmingly, to the enthusiasm of the crowds gathered outside.


The Constitution remained in effect for only a year before being overthrown, by Russian armies allied with the Targowica Confederation, in the War over the May 3, 1791, Constitution.

Wars between Turkey and Russia and Sweden and Russia having by now ended, Empress Catherine was furious over the adoption of the May 3 Constitution, which threatened Russian influence in Poland. Russia had viewed Poland as a de facto protectorate. The contacts of Polish reformers with the Revolutionary French National Assembly were seen by Poland's neighbors as evidence of a revolutionary conspiracy and a threat to the absolute monarchies. The Prussian statesman Ewald von Hertzberg expressed the fears of European conservatives: "The Poles have given the coup de grâce to the Prussian monarchy by voting a constitution."

A number of magnates who had opposed the Constitution from the start, such as Feliks Potocki and Ksawery Branicki, asked Tsarina Catherine to intervene and restore their privileges abolished under the Constitution. With her backing they formed the Targowica Confederation, and in their proclamation denounced the Constitution for spreading the "contagion of democratic ideas". They asserted that "The intentions of Her Highness the Empress of Russia Catherine the Great, ally of the Polish Commonwealth, in introducing her army, are and have been none other than to restore to the Commonwealth and to Poles freedom, and in particular to all the country's citizens, security and happiness." On May 18, 1792, over 20,000 Confederates crossed the border into Poland, together with 97,000 veteran Russian troops.

The Polish King and the reformers could field only a 37,000-man army, many of them untested recruits. The Polish Army, under the King's nephew Józef Poniatowski and Tadeusz Kościuszko, did defeat the Russians on several occasions, but the King himself dealt a deathblow to the Polish cause: when in July 1792 Warsaw was threatened with siege by the Russians, the King came to believe that victory was impossible against the Russian numerical superiority, and that surrender was the only alternative to total defeat and a massacre of the reformers.

On July 24, 1792, King Stanisław August Poniatowski abandoned the reformist cause and joined the Targowica Confederation. The Polish Army disintegrated. Many reform leaders, believing their cause lost, went into self-exile. The King had not saved the Commonwealth, however. To the surprise of the Targowica Confederates, there ensued the Second Partition of Poland. Russia took , and Prussia took . The Commonwealth now comprised no more than . What was left of the Commonwealth was merely a small buffer state with a puppet king and a Russian army.

For a year and a half, Polish patriots bided their time, while planning an insurrection. On March 24, 1794, in Kraków, Tadeusz Kościuszko declared what has come to be known as the Kościuszko Uprising. On May 7 he issued the "Proclamation of Połaniec" (Uniwersał Połaniecki), granting freedom to the peasants and ownership of land to all who fought in the insurrection.

After some initial victories—the Battle of Racławicemarker (April 4) and the capture of Warsaw (April 18) and Wilno (April 22)—the Uprising was dealt a crippling blow: the forces of Russia, Austria and Prussia joined in a military intervention. Historians consider the Uprising's defeat to have been a foregone conclusion in face of the gigantic numerical superiority of the three invading powers. The defeat of Kościuszko's forces led in 1795 to the third and final partition of the Commonwealth.


King Stanisław August Poniatowski described the May 3 Constitution, according to a contemporary account, as "founded principally on those of England and the United States of America, but avoiding the faults and errors of both, and adapted as much as possible to the local and particular circumstances of the country." Indeed, the Polish and American national constitutions reflected similar Enlightenment influences, including Montesquieu's advocacy of a separation and balance of powers among the three branches of government—so that, in the words of the May 3 Constitution (article V), "the integrity of the states, civil liberty, and social order remain always in equilibrium"—as well as Montesquieu's advocacy of a bicameral legislature.

The Constitution comprised 11 articles. It introduced the principle of popular sovereignty (applied to the nobility and townspeople) and a separation of powers into legislative (a bicameral Sejm), executive ("the King in his council") and judicial branches.

The Constitution advanced the democratization of the polity by limiting the excessive legal immunities and political prerogatives of landless nobility, while granting to the townspeople—in the earlier Free Royal Cities Act of April 18, 1791, stipulated in Article III to be integral to the Constitution—personal security, the right to acquire landed property, and eligibility for military officers' commissions, public offices, and membership in the nobility (szlachta).
1791 printed edition
The Government Act also placed the Commonwealth's peasantry "under the protection of the national law and government"—a first step toward the ending of serfdom and the enfranchisement of that largest and most oppressed social class.

The May 3 Constitution provided for a Sejm, "ordinarily" meeting every two years and "extraordinarily" whenever required by a national emergency. Its lower chamber—the Chamber of Deputies (Polish: Izba Poselska)—comprised 204 deputies and 24 plenipotentiaries of royal cities; its upper chamber—the Chamber of Senators (Polish: Izba Senacka)—comprised 132 senators (voivodes, castellans, government ministers and bishops).

Executive power was in the hands of a royal council, called the "Guardians of the Laws" (Polish: Straż Praw). This council was presided over by the King and comprised 5 ministers appointed by him: a minister of police, minister of the seal (i.e. of internal affairs — the seal was a traditional attribute of the earlier Chancellor), minister of the seal of foreign affairs, minister belli (of war), and minister of treasury. The ministers were appointed by the King but responsible to the Sejm. In addition to the ministers, council members included the Roman Catholic Primate (who was also president of the Education Commission) and — without a voice — the Crown Prince, the Marshal of the Sejm, and two secretaries. This royal council was a descendant of the similar council that had functioned over the previous two centuries since King Henry's Articles (1573). Acts of the King required the countersignature of the respective minister. The stipulation that the King, "doing nothing of himself, [...] shall be answerable for nothing to the nation," parallels the British constitutional principle that "The King can do no wrong." (In both countries, the respective minister was responsible for the king's acts.)
To enhance Commonwealth integration and security, the Constitution abolished the erstwhile union of Poland and Lithuania in favor of a unitary state and changed the government from an individually- to a dynastically-elective monarchy. The latter provision was meant to reduce the destructive, vying influences of foreign powers at each royal election. Under the terms of the May 3 Constitution, on Stanisław August's death the Polish throne was to become hereditary and pass to Frederick Augustus I of Saxony, of the house of Wettin, which had provided two of Poland's recent elective kings.

The Constitution abolished several institutional sources of government weakness and national anarchy, including the liberum veto, confederations, confederated sejms (paradoxically, the Four-Year Sejm was itself a confederated sejm), and the excessive sway of sejmiks (regional sejms) stemming from the binding nature of their instructions to their Sejm deputies.

The Constitution acknowledged the Roman Catholic faith as the "dominant religion", but guaranteed tolerance of, and freedom to, all religions. The Army was to be built up to 100,000 men. Standing income taxes were established (10% on the nobility, 20% on the church). Amendments to the constitution could be made every 25 years.

The May 3 Constitution recognized, as integral, the Miasta Nasze Królewskie Wolne w Państwach Rzeczypospolitej (Free Royal Cities Act) that had been passed on April 18, 1791 (Constitution, article III) and Prawo o sejmikach, the act on regional sejms (sejmiki), passed earlier on March 24, 1791 (article VI).

Some authorities additionally regard, as parts of the Constitution, the "Deklaracja Stanów Zgromadzonych (Declaration of the Assembled Estates) of May 5, 1791, confirming the Government Act adopted two days earlier, and the Zaręczenie Wzajemne Obojga Narodów (Mutual Declaration of the Two Peoples, i.e., of the Crown of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) of October 22, 1791, affirming the unity and indivisibility of Poland and the Grand Duchy within a single state, and their equal representation in state-governing bodies. The Mutual Declaration strengthened the Polish-Lithuanian union, while keeping many federal aspects of the state intact.

The provisions of the Government Act were fleshed out in a number of laws passed in May–June 1791 on sejms and sejm courts (two acts of May 13), the Guardians of the Laws (June 1), the national police commission (that is, ministry; June 17) and municipal administration (June 24).

The May 3 Constitution remained to the last a work in progress. Co-author Hugo Kołłątaj announced that work was underway on "an economic constitution…guaranteeing all rights of property [and] securing protection and honor to all manner of labor…" Yet a third basic law was touched on by Kołłątaj: a "moral constitution," most likely a Polish analog to the American Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.


Medal commemorating the Constitution
Medals commemorating the Constitution
The memory of the world's second modern codified national constitution (the first constitutional monarchy in the world)—recognized by political scientists as a very progressive document for its time—for generations helped keep alive Polish aspirations for an independent and just society, and continues to inform the efforts of its authors' descendants. In Poland it is viewed as the culmination of all that was good and enlightened in Polish history and culture. The May 3 anniversary of its adoption has been observed as Poland's most important civil holiday since Poland regained independencemarker in 1918.

Prior to the May 3 Constitution, in Poland the term "constitution" (Polish: konstytucja) had denoted all the legislation, of whatever character, that had been passed at a Sejm. Only with the adoption of the May 3 Constitution did konstytucja assume its modern sense of a fundamental document of governance.

These charters of government form an important milestone in the history of democracy. Poland and the United States, though distant geographically, showed some notable similarities in their approaches to the design of political systems. By contrast to the great absolute monarchies, both countries were remarkably democratic. The kings of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth were elected, and the Commonwealth's parliament (the Sejm) possessed extensive legislative authority. Under the May 3 Constitution, Poland afforded political privileges to its townspeople and to its nobility (the szlachta), which formed some ten percent of the country's population. This percentage closely approximated the extent of political access in contemporary America, where effective suffrage was limited to male property owners.

The defeat of Poland's liberals was but a temporary setback to the cause of democracy. The destruction of the Polish state only slowed the expansion of democracy, by then already established in North America. Democratic movements soon began undermining the absolute monarchies of Europe. The May 3 Constitution was translated, in abridged form, into French, German and English. French revolutionaries toasted King Stanisław August and the Constitution—not only for their progressive character, but because the War in Defense of the Constitution and the Kościuszko Uprising tied up appreciable Russian and Prussian forces that could not therefore be used against Revolutionary France. Thomas Paine regarded the May 3 Constitution as a great breakthrough. Edmund Burke described it as "the noblest benefit received by any nation at any time... Stanislas II has earned a place among the greatest kings and statesmen in history." In the end, the conservatives managed to delay the ascent of democracy in Europe only for a century; after the First World War, most of the European absolute monarchies were replaced by democratic states, including the reborn, Second Polish Republicmarker.


May 3 was first declared a holiday (May-3rd-Constitution Day—Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja) on May 5, 1791. Banned during the partitions of Poland (though still then occasionally celebrated), it was celebrated in the Duchy of Warsawmarker. It was again made an official Polish holiday in April 1919 under the Second Polish Republicmarker—the first holiday officially introduced in the Second Polish Republicmarker. The May 3 holiday was banned once more during World War II by the Nazi and Sovietmarker occupiers.

After the 1946 anti-communist student demonstrations, May 3 Constitution Day lost support with the authorities of the Polish People's Republic, who replaced it with May 1 Labor Day celebrations; in 1951, May 3 was officially rebranded Democratic Party Day and officially removed from the list of national holidays. Until 1989, May 3 was a common day for anti-government and anti-communist protests.

Polish Constitution Day has been a focal point of ethnic celebrations of Polish-American pride in Chicagoland, going back to 1892. Poles in Chicago have continued this tradition to the present day, marking it with festivities and the annual Polish Constitution Day Parade; prominent guests nationwide, most notably Bobby Kennedy, have attended over the years as a way to lobby Chicago Polonia. The anniversary of the May 3, 1791 Constitution has also for decades been observed in San Franciscomarker with celebrations in Golden Gate Park.

May 3 was restored as an official Polish holiday in April 1990, after the fall of communism. In 2007, May 3 was in addition declared a Lithuanianmarker national holiday. The first joint celebration by the Polish Sejm and the Lithuanian Seimas took place on May 3, 2007.

See also

Similar documents:


a Scholars still debate the definition of "modern constitution"; some assert that there were other modern constitutions before the United States Constitution—thus pushing the May 3 Constitution back from second place. For example, in 1973 Dorothy Carrington published an article arguing that the 1755 Corsican Constitution should be considered the first modern national constitution.


  1. John Markoff describes the advent of modern codified national constitutions as one of the milestones of democracy, and states that "The first European country to follow the U.S. example was Poland in 1791." John Markoff, Waves of Democracy, 1996, ISBN 0-8039-9019-7, p.121.
  2. Isaac Kramnick, Introduction,
  3. Article IV (The peasants): "we accept under the protection of the law and of the national government the agricultural folk […] who constitute the most numerous populace in the nation and hence the greatest strength of the country [...]."
  4. George Sanford, Democratic Government in Poland: Constitutional Politics Since 1989, Palgrave, 2002, ISBN 0-333-77475-2, Google print p.11
  5. Lietuvos TSR istorija. T. 1: Nuo seniausių laikų iki 1917 metų. - 2 leid. Vilnius, 1986, p. 222. Transcript of original translation can be found on Senieji lietuviški raštai (Old Lithuanian texts), Lituanistica,
  6. Hugo Kołłątaj and Ignacy Potocki, On the Adoption and Fall of the Polish May 3 Constitution, Leipzig, 1793.
  7. "Ojczyzna" is in feminine form in the Polish language; therefore, it should be translated as "Motherland," and not as "Fatherland"
  8. Will and Ariel Durant, Rousseau and Revolution, p. 474.
  9. John P. LeDonne, The Russian Empire and the World, 1700-1917: The Geopolitics of Expansion and Containment, Oxford University Press US, 1997, ISBN 0195109279, Google Print, p.41-42
  10. Hugh Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1801-1917, Oxford University Press, 1967, ISBN 0198221525, Google Print, p.44
  11. Richard Butterwick, Poland's Last King and English Culture: Stanisław August Poniatowski, 1732-1798, Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0198207018, Google Print, p.163
  12. Andrzej Jezierski, Cecylia Leszczyńska, Historia gospodarcza Polski, 2003, p. 68.
  13. Jerzy Lukowski, Hubert Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN 0521559170, , Google Print p.96-99
  14. Sharon Korman, The Right of Conquest: The Acquisition of Territory by Force in International Law and Practice, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0198280076, Google Print, p.75
  15. Maurice Cranston, The Solitary Self: Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Exile and Adversity, University of Chicago Press, 1997, ISBN 0-226-11865-7, Print p.177
  16. Ted Tapper, David Palfreyman, Understanding Mass Higher Education: Comparative Perspectives on Access, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0415354919, Google Print, p.14o
  17. Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, Columbia University Press, 2005, ISBN 0231128193, Google Print, p.167
  18. Richard Butterwick, Poland's Last King and English Culture: Stanisław August Poniatowski, 1732-1798, Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0198207018, Print, p.158-162
  19. Piotr Stefan Wandycz, The Price of Freedom: A History of East Central Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present, Routledge (UK), 2001, ISBN 0-415-25491-4, Google Print, p.128
  20. Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763–1848, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-820654-2, Google print p.84
  21. Jerzy Lukowski, Hubert Zawadzki, Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN 0521559170, Google Print, p.84
  22. Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States, p. 40.
  23. Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States, p. 42.
  24. Constitution of May 3, 1791.
  25. Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States, p. 51.
  26. Constitution of May 3, 1791, Article IV: The Peasants.
  27. It bears noting that the contemporaneous United States Constitution sanctioned the continuation of slavery. Thus neither constitution enfranchised all its adult male population: the U.S. Constitution discriminated against America's slaves, and the Polish Constitution against Poland's peasants.
  28. Constitution of May 3, 1791, Article VI: The Sejm, or legislative authority.
  29. Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States, pp. 45–49.
  30. Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States, pp. 45-46.
  31. King Stanisław August himself had been elected in 1764 with the support of his ex-mistress, Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great — including bribes and a Russian army deployed only a few miles from the election sejm, meeting at Wola outside Warsaw.
  32. Constitution of May 3, 1791, Article VII: The King, the executive authority.
  33. Constitution of May 3, 1791, Article I: The dominant religion.
  34. Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States, p. 31.
  35. Jerzy Kowecki, ed., Konstytucja 3 maja 1791 (The Constitution of May 3, 1791), with foreword by Bogusław Leśnodorski, pp. 105-7.
  36. Maria Konopka-Wichrowska, My, Litwa... "Ostatnim było Zaręczenie Wzajemne Obojga Narodów przy Konstytucji 3 Maja, stanowiące część nowych paktów konwentów — zdaniem historyka prawa Bogusława Leśnodorskiego: „zacieśniające unię, ale utrzymujące nadal federacyjny charakter Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów”".
  37. Polska Akademia Nauk – Biblioteka Kórnicka, Ustawodawstwo Sejmu Wielkiego z 1791 r., Kórnik, 1985.
  38. Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States, pp. 231–32.
  39. Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States, p. 41.
  40. Konstytucja 3 Maja - rys historyczny, University of Warsaw
  41. Iwona Pogorzelska, Prezentacja na podstawie artykułu Romany Guldon „Pamiątki Konstytucji 3 Maja przechowywane w zasobie Archiwum Państwowego w Kielcach.” Almanach Historyczny, T. 4, Kielce 2002, 2005
  42. Rafał Kowalczyk and Łukasz Kamiński, Zakazane święta PRLu, Polskie Radio Online, May 3, 2008
  43. Rok 2007: Przegląd wydarzeń, Tygnodnik Wileńszczyzny
  44. Dorothy Carrington (1973), "The Corsican Constitution of Pasquale Paoli (1755–1769)", The English Historical Review, 88:348 (July), p. 482.

Further reading

  • Jerzy Kowecki, ed., Konstytucja 3 maja 1791 (The Constitution of May 3, 1791), przedmową opatrzył (with foreword by) Bogusław Leśnodorski, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1981, ISBN 83-01-01915-8.
  • Polska Akademia Nauk – Biblioteka Kórnicka (Polish Academy of Sciences, Kórnikmarker Library), Ustawodawstwo Sejmu Wielkiego z 1791 r. (Legislation of the Great Sejm of 1791), Kórnikmarker, 1985. Compilation of facsimile reprints of 1791 legislation pertinent to the Constitution of May 3, 1791.
  • Joseph Kasparek, The Constitutions of Poland and of the United States: Kinships and Genealogy, Miami, American Institute of Polish Culture, 1980.
  • Adam Zamoyski, The Polish Way: a Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture, New York, Hippocrene Books, 1994.
  • Jacek Jędruch, Constitutions, Elections and Legislatures of Poland, 1493–1993, Summit, NJ, EJJ Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7818-0637-2.
  • Norman Davies, God's Playground, 2 vols., ISBN 0-231-05353-3 and ISBN 0-231-05351-7.
  • Paweł Jasienica, Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów (The Commonwealth of the Two Nations), ISBN 83-06-01093-0.
  • Emanuel Rostworowski, Maj 1791 - maj 1792: rok monarchii konstytucyjnej (May 1791–May 1792: the Year of Constitutional Monarchy), Warsaw, Zamek Królewski (Royal Castlemarker), 1985.
  • Hugo Kołłątaj and Ignacy Potocki, On the Adoption and Fall of the Polish May 3 Constitution, Leipzig, 1793.
  • Will and Ariel Durant, Rousseau and Revolution: A History of Civilization in France, England, and Germany from 1756, and in the Remainder of Europe from 1715, to 1789, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1967.

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