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Early Printing of the U.S. Constitution, in American Museum—One of the First Two Magazine Printings of the Constitution
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These six issues of The American Museum magazine capture the events of the dramatic and remarkable latter half of 1787. They include the first magazine printing of the proposed Constitution of the United States, arguments for and against the ratification of the Constitution (including the first six numbers of The Federalist), and notices of the ratification of the Constitution by Delaware and Pennsylvania. Other great material includes the Northwest Ordinance of 1787; the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (one of the three accomplishments of which Jefferson was proudest); Daniel Boone’s account of his exploits in Kentucky; state actions against slavery; and discussions of a wide range of subjects from paper money and public punishment for crimes to Shays’ Rebellion and the promotion of American manufactures.

[CONSTITUTION]. The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, &c. Volume II, July – December 1787. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1787. 5⅛ x 8¼ in., approx. 624 pp.

Inventory #26595       Price: $17,500

The constitution framed for the united states of America, by a convention of deputies from the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, at a session begun May 14, and ended September 17, 1787

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.” (p276-284);

  • George Washington to the President of Confederation Congress, Sept. 17, 1787 (p285-6);
  • Resolution of Congress recommending the appointment of state conventions to consider the Constitution, Sept. 28, 1787 (p286);
  • Six numbers of The Federalist, each signed “Publius
    • No. 1 (General Introduction) [Alexander Hamilton] (p441-443)
    • No. 2 (“Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence”) [John Jay] (p443-6)
    • No. 3 (“The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence”) [John Jay] (p523-5)
      No. 4 (“The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence”) [John Jay] (p525-8)
      No. 5 (“The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence”) [John Jay] (p528-530)
      No. 6 (“Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States”) [Alexander Hamilton] (p530-4);
  • Benjamin Franklin, “Remarks and facts relative to the American paper money,” written in London in 1764 (p17-23);
  • Benjamin Rush, “Account of the life and death of Edward Drinker” (p73-75);
  • Benjamin Franklin, “The way to make money plenty in every man’s pocket” (p87);
  • Hugh Williamson / “Sylvius,” Seven Letters on “the consequences of emitting paper-money; the necessity and advantages of encouraging American manufactures; the beneficial effects of an alteration in the present mode of taxation, &c.” (p107-134);
  • Joel Barlow, Oration delivered to Connecticut Society of the Cincinnati, July 4, 1787 (p135-142);
  • Benjamin Rush, “An enquiry into the effects of public punishments upon criminals, and upon society” (p142-153);
  • Constitution of the Humane Society for the Recovery of Drowned Persons … and for recovering persons supposed to be dead from drowning (including early instructions for pulmonary resuscitation and avoidance of hypothermia) (p160-164);
  • Resolutions by various patriotic societies to encourage economy and the patronage of domestic manufactures (p165-9);
  • The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, creating and governing the Northwest Territory – including prohibition against slavery (p188-192);
  • Benjamin Franklin, President of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, “Information for those who wish to remove to America” [Encouraging immigration] (p211-216);
  • Tench Coxe, “Address to the assembly of the friends of American manufactures” (p248-255);
  • Tench Coxe, “Letters on the federal government” (p300-306; p387-391);
  • [Shays’ Rebellion.] “Camillus,” “Observations on the late insurrection in Massachusetts; its causes; artifices of incendiaries; prejudices in favour of native country, prevalent every where but in America” (p315-320);
  • Daniel Boone, “Adventures of col. Daniel Boon, one of the original settlers at Kentucke” (p321-328);
  • “An officer of the late continental army,” “Objections to the new Constitution” and parallel “Plain Truth,” “Answers to the objections to the new constitution” (p422-32);
  • Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth to Governor of Connecticut, Sept. 26, 1787, transmitting the Constitution (p434-5);
  • Elbridge Gerry to Samuel Adams and James Warren, Oct. 18, 1787, “containing the reasons...for not signing the federal constitution” (p435-6);
  • “A Jerseyman,” “Address to the citizens of New Jersey on the new constitution,” Nov. 5, 1787 (p436-440);
  • [Thomas Jefferson], Virginia General Assembly,“Act for establishing religious freedom in Virginia,” passed 1786 (p501-2) Authorship of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was one of only three accomplishments Jefferson instructed be put in his epitaph (together with writing the Declaration of Independence and founding the University of Virginia).
  • Virginia General Assembly, “An act to prevent the further importation of slaves into this commonwealth,” Oct. 1786 (p502);
  • Rhode Island General Assembly, “An act to prevent the slave trade, and to encourage the abolition of slavery,” Oct. 1787 (p502-3);
  • Resolutions from Virginia in favor of the new federal Constitution (p509-512);
  • George Mason, Objections to the proposed federal Constitution (p534-6);
  • “The address and reasons of dissent, of the minority of the convention of the state of Pennsylvania, to their constituents,” Dec. 12, 1787 (p536-553);
  • Richard Henry Lee to Edmund Randolph, Oct. 16, 1787, with his objections to the Constitution (p553-8);
  • Benjamin Franklin, “Final speech in the late federal convention,”for the Constitution (p558-9);
  • Ratification of the federal Constitution by Delaware, Dec. 7, 1787 (p586);
  • Ratification of the federal Constitution by Pennsylvania, Dec. 12, 1787 (p586-7).

The American Museum, or Universal Magazine, was published monthly in Philadelphia by Irish-Catholic immigrant Matthew Carey (1760-1839) from January 1787 to December 1792. The Marquis de Lafayette gave Carey $400 to purchase a printing press and establish this literary magazine. The first issue republished Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and also the proposed U.S. Constitution. Its distinguished contributors included the first four presidents, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Noah Webster. George Washington, who was a subscriber, wrote to Carey: “I believe ‘the American Museum’ published by you, has met with extensive, I may say, with universal approbation from competent Judges.... I am of opinion that the Work is not only eminently calculated to dissiminate political, agricultural, philosophical & other valuable information; but that it has been uniformly conducted with taste, attention, & propriety.” With approximately 1,250 subscribers, it was one of the first two successful American magazines (Columbian Magazine being the other), but ultimately was not profitable.

Condition: scattered foxing but generally fresh and bright; in calf antique, spine with raised bands in six compartments, second with morocco label lettered in gilt, others with repeat decoration in gilt, blue morocco label at foot dated in gilt; boards ruled in gilt motif; marbled endpapers; a little rubbing to upper joint and board edges; boards very slightly bowed.

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