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Extremely Rare U.S. Constitution—Printed by Albany Federalists to Influence the Election of Delegates to New York’s Bitterly Divided Ratification Convention
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We, the People, of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.…”

By 1787, Americans had realized that thirteen independent state governments within a weak association could not stand on their own. The Federal Convention was called, and met in Philadelphia, to improve the Articles of Confederation. The delegates soon agreed that small fixes would not do. Though they were not authorized to propose an entirely new structure of government, they laid one out anyway. Their first draft of the preamble began, “We the people of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts....” (naming the 13 states). Their second draft was revised to the now familiar “We, the People of the United States...”

They completed and signed the engrossed manuscript on September 17, 1787. The next day, they sent it, with two cover letter resolutions signed by George Washington, to the Confederation Congress in New York, asking the members to accept it without any changes and to send it to the states for ratification. After three remarkable days of debate, the Representatives of the United States in Congress Assembled agreed.

Over the next ten months, Americans engaged in vigorous debate. Ultimately, the danger of continuing under too weak a government to deal with real problems won out over the fear of government too powerful for its own citizens to be free. Thus, the United States of America was founded by the Constitution, which can also be considered a Declaration of Interdependence. It is not just history, but also technology—a tool for the practical application of knowledge and ingenuity to solve problems.

The Constitution is printed here preceded by the Constitutional Convention’s covering resolution signed by George Washington, submitting the Constitution to Congress with the assurance that “the constitution which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity,” which “we hope and believe may promote the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness.”

“It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these States, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all—: Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest… It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved... this difficulty was encreased by a difference among the several States as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.”

[UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION]. Articles Agreed upon by the Federal Convention of the United States of America, his Excellency George Washington, Esq; President. In Convention, September 17, 1787…”. Albany: Printed for the Federal Committee by Claxton & Babcock at the Federal Printing Office, [c. March 1788]. 4 pp., 8.66 x 13.6 in. Several numbers penned on the fourth page. Unrecorded in Evans or Bristol.

Inventory #27800       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Extremely rare. An otherwise unrecorded folio printing of the Federal Compact, intended by Albany Federalists to influence the election of delegates to New York’s bitterly divided ratification convention which convened at Van Kleck’s tavern in Poughkeepsie in June 1788.

The Federal Committee was established in Albany in March 1788 to counter an organization of Anti-Federalists that had formed in February. Both groups sought to influence the selection of delegates to the ratification convention. In mid-March, the Committee published a slate of candidates "who wish to see Harmony and Good Government rise superior to a state of Anarchy and Confusion" ("To the Independent Electors…"The Albany Journal, March 15, 1788, p. 3).

The Committee also engaged Claxton and Babcock to print a Dutch language version, Artyklen, die Geaccordeerd zyn by de Foederal Conventie, with the credit that it had been “Gedruckt voor de Foederale Committee.” (Evans 20792 incorrectly assigns that to 1787, but it was clearly executed also ca. March 1788.) For more on the battles between the Federal Committee and their Anti-Federalist rivals, see Pauline Maier, Ratification, p. 328-333.

The proposed Constitution was not popular in New York. Two of the state’s three delegates to the Constitutional Convention had walked out, leaving only Alexander Hamilton to sign the document. Debate in New York was particularly acrimonious. Delegates to N.Y.’s ratification Convention, in Poughkeepsie, selected in April, 1788, were mostly Anti-Federalists. But, as the Albany Federal Committee warned in the March 15 issue ofJournal, the Constitution had “been already RATIFIED by SIX powerful States—Four of which are our immediate neighbors.” As the debates raged, Hamilton paid for express riders who brought the news that New Hampshire had become the ninth state to ratify. That pushed the N.Y. delegates towards compromise. Adding their own proposed Bill of Rights, New York became the 11th state to vote for ratification, on July 26, 1788.

Provenance: “Mr. Boardman” (newspaper’s direction to subscriber) < Christie’s 2001/05/22, lot 166 < Acquired by Kaller for Gilder Lehrman < Deaccessioned, Christie’s 2024/01.17 as Property of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Sold to benefit the Acquisitions and Direct Care Fund    

Mr. Boardman was likelyJohn Bordman (1735-1817), born in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut. His mother, Hannah Crane, was 32. He married Lydia Dean about 1760. They had at least 3 sons (including John C Boardman (1766-1848)) and 2 daughters. He lived in Rensselaerville, Albany.

Following the certification of Washington and the “signatures” of all the states’ delegates, is the Convention’s final resolution, also signed in type by Washington, that the Constitution be laid before Congress and the states and implemented when nine states have ratified the Constitution.

Excerpts from Constitution
“From Philadelphia, September 19 PLAN of the New Federal Government

WE, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America....

Article I. Sect. 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Sect. 8. The Congress shall have power To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States…To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States; To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin … To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries… To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States... To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers....

Sect. 9. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress, prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person. … The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

[Article] II. Sect. 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the vice-president, chosen for the same term, be elected as follows ...

Sect. 2. The president shall be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States....

[Article III.] Sect. 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour....

Sect. 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court…

[Article IV.] Sect. 2. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states….

Sect. 4. The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

[Article V.] The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three-fourths thereof....”.