THE BILL OF RIGHTS, AND AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, AS AGREED TO BY THE CONVENTION OF THE STATE OF RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE-PLANTATION AT SOUTH- KINGSTOWN, IN THE COUNTY OF WASHINGTON, ON THE FIRST MONDAY OF MARCH, A.D. 1790 [caption title].
[Providence. John Carter, March 6, 1790]. Broadside, 16 1/2 x 13 3/4 inches. Archivally matted to 30 x 26 inches. Text printed in three columns. Old fold lines. Wear and minor loss at some folds, affecting a few words of text. Reinforced at folds on verso. Minor soiling. Very good. A very rare broadside printing of Rhode Island's proposed alterations and additions to the already ratified federal Constitution and Bill of Rights, issued at the time of the ratifying convention of that state. The broadside illustrates the struggle between Federal control and individual liberties which many the passage of the Constitution a very closely contested issue. When the Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification, many perceived that the new compact lacked guarantees of fundamental rights. In certain states, ratification was made contingent upon the addition of corrective amendments. Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island all submitted drafts of protections to be incorporated in the Constitution. These competing texts were, in many cases, radically different from each other, and it was the thorny task of a Committee of the House of Representatives to reconcile them into seventeen amendments constituting the initial Bill of Rights. This was soon pared to twelve by the Senate, only ten of which were ultimately ratified by the states. The Federal Bill of Rights was sent to the States on Sept. 26, 1789. At this point eleven states had ratified the Constitution, leaving only North Carolina and Rhode Island outside. North Carolina ratified both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the fall of 1789, and a total of seven states ratified the Bill of Rights by the beginning of March, 1790. On March 1, 1790, Rhode Island finally convened a state ratifying convention, which immediately went to work on the present document, which it passed on March 6. This version of the Bill of Rights, called a Declaration of Rights, lists eighteen items, as does the section of proposed amendments. Among the rights claimed by the citizens of Rhode Island are the right to life, liberty and happiness; the right to elect officials; the right to fair trial by jury, freedom from unlawful imprisonment, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment or fines; freedom of speech and the press; the right to bear arms (as well as the right to employ someone to bear arms in one's stead); and freedom of religion. The amendments proposed guarantee various state's rights and freedom from the interference of the federal government; several place requirements on Congress for a majority vote before declaring war, overturning laws, or borrowing money. Perhaps most interestingly, amendment seventeen concerns slavery: "As a traffic tending to establish or continue the slavery of any part of the human species, is disgraceful to the cause of liberty and humanity - that Congress shall, as soon as may be, promote and establish such laws and regulations as may effectually prevent the importation of slaves if every description into the United States." Not quite three months later, on May 29, 1790, Rhode Island attached a nearly identical set of these recommendations to Rhode Island's tardy ratification to the Constitution, with the request that they somehow be incorporated. This final vote only barely succeeded, by 32 to 30. Many of the amendments, in their final form, parallel the Bill of Rights. A week later, on June 7, the convention decided to accept the Federal version and became the ninth state to do so. The Bill of Rights became the law of the land with Virginia's ratification on Dec. 15, 1791. NAIP locates only six copies, at the Huntington, Library of Congress, Rhode Island Historical, Rhode Island State Library, Westerly Public Library, and the American Antiquarian Society. A rare and important document central to the ratification of the Constitution by the last of the original thirteen states to do so. EVANS 22845. ALDEN 1202.
(Item ID: WRCAM45336) $37,500.00