In this essay I analyze the impact of the many constitutions Colombia drafted during the nineteenth century on its economic development. Some prototypical constitutions are chosen as they became building blocks of the legal structure of the country. I try to show that constitutional and legal instability played a more important role in the lack of development than the Spanish legacy. While commercial, political and religious monopolies were inherited and constituted the ideological base of the conservatives, many of them were dismantled by the liberal reforms. The loss of the political order which the Spanish had maintained for three centuries was followed by the painful search for a new political code, for which the Creole elites were responsible. The excesses of concentration or diffusion of power produced the pendulum movements between centralism and federalism which were essential causes of the political disorder during the nineteenth century, which held back the country's economic performance.