Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Constitutional Convention

3-storey brick building
The site of the convention later became known as Constitution Hall. Photo courtesy Denver Public Library Western History Department.

This Election Day, as we vote on changes to our Colorado Constitution, you might be wondering how the original state constitution came about. Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876. But several months prior, in December 1875, leading Colorado citizens gathered to draft a state constitution. The site of the convention later became known as Constitution Hall.

Delegates to the convention came from every district in the soon-to-be state. They met at the Odd Fellows Hall, upstairs from the First National Bank, on Blake Street in Denver (which burned to the ground a century later, in 1977). Attorney and Pueblo Chieftain editor Wilbur F. Stone was elected president of the convention. Other members of the convention included Byron Carr, who would later become Colorado Attorney General; Henry C. Thatcher, the first chief justice of the Colorado supreme court; long-serving legislator Casimiro Barela; Indian agent Lafayette Head, who became Colorado’s first lieutenant governor; and others.

Online via our library you can find two publications that tell the story of Colorado’s original constitutional convention. The first, dated July 1, 1876, contains the constitution as it was drafted along with an Address of the Convention to the People of Colorado. The second is the proceedings of the December 1875 constitutional convention, compiled into a book in 1907. The original handwritten Colorado constitution can also be viewed online. It was digitized by the Colorado State Archives.