New York: Published by John Fenno, June 13, 1789. pp. folio newspaper (the pages numbered -72), printed on a single folded sheet. Three small stab-holes in the margin. Lightly toned, stained around the edges. Some small paper repairs at edges. Very good. Item #WRCAM48403
The second printed appearance of the first draft of the Bill of Rights. What became the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution were first proposed by James Madison in the House of Representatives, then sitting in New York, on June 8, 1789. Madison's proposals were first printed in the New York DAILY ADVERTISER on June 12, followed the next day by this June 13 issue of the GAZETTE OF THE UNITED STATES - more than three months before they were finalized and approved by the Congress and sent to the states for ratification. James Madison's proposals appear on the third page of this issue, as part of a section giving a "Sketch of Proceedings of Congress," which summarizes activities that took place on June 10, 11, and 12. The resolution as introduced by Madison reads: "Resolved, That the following amendments ought to be proposed by Congress, to the legislatures of the States, to become, if ratified by three fourths thereof, part of the Constitution of the United States." Madison's recommendations are listed as nine proposals, several of which contain multiple clauses. The first proposal proclaims that "all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from the people," that government is instituted for the benefit of the people, and that they have an unalienable right to reform or change their government. Proposal Four contains much of what became the Bill of Rights: guarantees of religious freedom, freedom of speech and of the press, freedom to assemble, and the right to keep and bear arms. Also, defenses against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to confront witnesses against the accused at trial, protections against self-incrimination, safeguards against double jeopardy, and the right to a speedy and public trial. Madison's proposals were eventually expanded to seventeen Amendments passed by the House of Representatives, which were then winnowed down to twelve by the Senate, of which ten were ratified by the states. Madison's language here is often identical to that of the Bill of Rights as finally approved. The GAZETTE OF THE UNITED STATES was the only newspaper of record during the early years of the Federal government, and was the primary means of disseminating the proceedings and debates in the First Congress at a time when the government of the United States was busy defining itself in terms of the new Constitution. By any account the GAZETTE is the most reliable primary source for United States government affairs and political issues during the critical first Federal Congress of 1789-91. One of the dominant issues of the first year of the government, carrying over from the previous year's debate over ratification of the Constitution, was the need to augment the Constitution to protect individual rights and liberties. That issue was directly addressed in the development of the Bill of Rights. John Fenno established the GAZETTE OF THE UNITED STATES in New York as a Federalist organ to support the new government. The first issue appeared less than two months before the present issue, on April 15, 1789, announcing itself as a semi-official medium for the proceedings and debates of Congress, and promising to print "essays upon the great subjects of Government in general, and the Federal Legislature in particular; also upon the national and local Rights of the American Citizens, as founded upon the Federal or State Constitutions...." Fenno was paid by the government for printing the proceedings of Congress, and the leading Federalists (including Hamilton) stepped in with additional financial assistance when necessary. When the seat of government moved to Philadelphia, Hamilton and others aided Fenno in transferring the newspaper there. This is essentially the earliest version of any form of the Bill of Rights obtainable. Issues of the New York DAILY ADVERTISER from this period are exceedingly rare. A landmark printing of Madison's initial proposal of the Bill of Rights, the fundamental defense of American rights and liberties. A copy brought $31,200 at Swann Galleries in April 2012.