Philadelphia: Carey, Stewart, and Co., 1791. ,176pp. 12mo. Modern quarter calf and marbled boards, spine gilt, leather label. Neat contemporary ownership inscription on titlepage, later initials on fore-edge. Light tanning, occasional foxing; very light dampstaining at lower corner. Very good. Item #WRCAM54484
The 1791 edition of THE CONSTITUTIONS..., the very scarce first collection of state constitutions published after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the first to assemble a printing of the U.S. Constitution together with twelve proposed amendments, and the first to include the constitution of Vermont along with those of the thirteen original states, including that of Massachusetts. Writing from Paris in December 1787, Thomas Jefferson responded to a letter from Madison that outlined the newly constructed federal constitution. Though unhappy with its "omission of a bill of rights," Jefferson approved of this "government which should go on of itself peaceably" (LOA). Londoners had earlier hailed a 1781 collection of state constitutions (issued six years before the framing of the U.S. Constitution) as "the Magna Charta of the American States" (MONTHLY REVIEW). This scarce volume was the first to assemble the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of the original thirteen states. It "contains the constitution of Vermont, not in any previous edition" (Matyas). Within are the colonial charters of Rhode Island (1662) and Connecticut (1663); the 1776 constitutions of Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, New Hampshire, Maryland, and North Carolina; the 1777 constitution of New York; the 1789 Georgia constitution; the 1790 constitutions of South Carolina and Pennsylvania; as well as the 1780 Massachusetts constitution authored by John Adams, "one of the great, enduring documents of the American Revolution...the oldest functioning written constitution in the world" (McCullough). Also contains the twelve constitutional amendments proposed by Congress in 1789 (with a printed note dated August 1791 on the failure of the first two to be ratified). EVANS 23887. ESTC W30537. SABIN 16097. HOWES C716. MATYAS 91-01. McCULLOUGH, JOHN ADAMS 225. ROSENBACH 65:38. LOA, CONSTITUTION I:210. REESE, FEDERAL HUNDRED 36.