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Bill of Rights: September 1789 Printing with Penultimate Text of 2nd Amendment (SOLD)
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“Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion,or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition to the government for a redress of grievances.”

After the House of Representatives proposed seventeen amendments (“Articles”), the Senate took up the debate and reduced the number to twelve. Even after the reduction, the House and Senate continued wrangling over language, especially in the third article (which would become the First Amendment) and the eighth article regarding trials (which would become the Sixth Amendment).

The Proceedings of Congress report in this issue bears the same September 23 date as the paper itself, but that is unlikely; the House and Senate Journals do not reflect any debate on amending the Constitution that day. Instead, this is most likely the working draft of September 21. It reflects language at the time the House agreed to ten points proposed earlier by the Senate. The House and Senate remained in disagreement and established a conference to resolve sixteen other points of disagreement.

On September 24, the House dropped its objections to the sixteen points, insisting only on changes in the third and eighth articles. Agreement on these two areas established the final text of the Bill of Rights. The Senate concurred on September 25, and the House re-affirmed its approval on September 28th when at least one engrossed copy was signed, marking the Bill of Rights’ final legislative hurdle before being sent to the states for ratification.

[BILL OF RIGHTS]. Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. New York: John Fenno, September 23, 1789. 4 pp., 10 x 16 ½ in. Disbound.

Inventory #30020.05       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Partial Transcript:

[Note:  Differences between this and the final text are bracketed. As described above, these bracketed language differences were decided after September 21 and before September 24 in committee.]

In the Senate of the United States/ September 23, 1789/ AMENDMENTS to the CONSTITUTION.

The Conventions of a number of the states having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added. And as extending the ground of public confidence in the government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution:—

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, That the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as AMENDMENTS to the CONSTITUTION of the United States, all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, viz.


In addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Article First. After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred; to which number one Representative shall be added for every subsequent increase of forty thousand, until the Representatives shall amount to two hundred, to which number one Representative shall be added for every subsequent increase of sixty thousand persons.  [Minor differences between this and the manuscripts sent to the states, but this amendment was not ratified.]

Art.  Second. No law varying the compensation for the services of the senators and representatives shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened. [Not ratified at the time.]

Art. Third. Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion,or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition to the government for a redress of grievances.

[Final text in the manuscript: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.]

Art. Fourth. A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Art. Fifth. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.

Art. Sixth. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Art. Seventh. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cafes arising in the Land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the fame offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal cafe to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

Art. Eighth. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,[added in the final manuscript: by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and] to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favour, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

Art. Ninth. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by a Jury shall be preserved, and no fact, tried by a Jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Art. Tenth. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Art. Eleventh.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Art. Twelfth. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Historic Background

The lack of a Bill of Rights—a central feature of most state Constitutions—was a principal criticism of the recently-drafted federal Constitution. To ensure ratification, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention promised that the Congress would address guarantees of specific liberties in their first session. Additionally, during the ratification process, five states approved the Constitution and passed along lists of proposed amendments. Two states that had refused to ratify (Rhode Island and North Carolina) nonetheless suggested amendments. In all, nearly one hundred discrete amendments were offered.

At first lukewarm to the idea, “father of the Constitution” James Madison campaigned for ratification on a promise to fight for a Bill of Rights. On May 4, 1789, Madison told the House of Representatives he planned to present a slate of amendments three weeks later. When May 25 arrived, Congress was debating import duties, so Madison demurred until June 8, when the House again rebuked his efforts. Rising once more, Madison apologized to his colleagues and introduced his proposals.

On July 21, 1789, the House formed the Committee of Eleven (one member from each state—Rhode Island and North Carolina had not yet joined the Union) to consider the proposed amendments. The Committee made its report on July 28, taking the nine broad areas Madison had suggested for amendment and drafting 17 individual amendments for House approval. These passed the House on August 24, and the Senate began their debate the next day. The Senate passed its own version with 12 amendments on September 9. Wrangling over language continued for the next two weeks in committee, mostly over what would ultimately become the 1st and 6th Amendments. The House agreed on September 24, the Senate the next day, and the official copies were signed on September 28.

Then, twelve articles of amendment were sent to the states for ratification on October 2, 1789. Two of the twelve proposed amendments, the first regarding apportionment of representation in the House and the second, congressional salaries, were not ratified by the states, so only articles three through twelve became the first ten amendments. However, article #2, which stated that Congressional pay increases (or decreases) would not take effect until an election had ensued, eventually became the 27th Amendment on May 8, 1992, 203 years after it was first proposed.