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A look at Colorado's three versions of the Constitution

It's time for a little history lesson, Colorado. Colorado has three Constitutions. Well, one Constitution in three languages.

DENVER — Just like Snap, Crackle and Pop, Colorado has a famous trio. Though, unlike your familiarity with Rice Krispies, you probably don't know two of the three.

Colorado has three Constitutions.

Well, one Constitution in three languages.

The English-version is on display at History Colorado.

"It's on loan to us from the State Archives," said History Colorado Public Historian and Exhibit Developer Julie Peterson. "This was the actual document that was signed at the Constitutional Convention. December 20, 1875, the Constitutional Convention was convened."

The English-version is under protective glass and has been on the same page for quite a while.

"It's open to a page that sets out the duties and responsibilities of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor," said Peterson. "It's kind of difficult to open up the cases, and to preserve the integrity of the objects we try not to handle them too much."

Each page of the Constitution is wrapped in its own page protector.

"It's still a fragile, over 100-year-old document," said Peterson. "The Constitution itself is actually very well preserved."

Credit: 9NEWS

But it's just one of three Colorado Constitutions.

"The state Constitution was written over a period of about three months. One of the things that was up for debate during the Convention was how to distribute the state Constitution to people in Colorado who were non-native English speakers," said Peterson.

The other two Constitutions are on display at El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo. Can you guess the other two other languages that Colorado's Constitution was transcribed?

"In the 1870s, about 17 percent of the population of the state of Colorado were foreign-born, and a good majority of those folks were actually German speakers," said Peterson. "And around the same time, about 20 percent of the state population was either born in Mexico, or in the New Mexico territory, so most, if not all, of those people would have spoken Spanish."

Credit: 9NEWS

The Spanish and German-language Constitutions were not produced in large form like the original English-version, but rather in pamphlet-sized versions, along with an English-sized pamphlet version to distribute to the residents of Colorado.

"The framers of the Constitution decided that those non-English speakers should have an equal opportunity to access our state's fundamental laws," said Peterson. "This way, everyone who lived in Colorado, regardless of their origin, had access to these laws."

At the legislature, there is a proposed bill to display the English-version of the Constitution at the State Capitol. However, it's a lot more difficult than it sounds.

Based on the analysis by the legislative council, which reviews all legislation and the impact it would have on state finances and departments, displaying the Constitution at the Capitol would require:

  • UV light protection
  • Temperature control
  • Microclimate generator-humidity control (humidor)
  • Special lighting
  • Security lock and alarm
  • Three security cameras

The initial cost was estimated to be $70,000 for the first year and more than $3,000 annually after that, but Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) told the legislative committee that first heard this idea earlier this month that there will be an adjustment to that amount as a plan is formed over the next few weeks.

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