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(On Hold) The U.S. Constitution – Very Rare Printing on the Second Day of Publication

[U.S. Constitution], The Pennsylvania Herald, Thursday, September 20, 1787. Philadelphia: William Spotswood. Alexander J. Dallas, editor. 4 pp. 11¾ x 19 inches folded, 23½ x 19 inches opened.

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We are not aware of any other example in private hands, and only six institutions list runs that should include this issue. 

Item #27499, ON HOLD

Virginia’s Ratification of the U.S. Constitution and Proposals for the Bill of Rights

[U.S. CONSTITUTION, BILL OF RIGHTS], Edmund Pendleton, Manuscript Document Signed, Extracts of Proceedings of Virginia Ratification Convention, June 25-27, 1788. Also signed and attested by John Beckley as secretary. Paper watermarked “Posthorn GR”; countermarked “IV.” 14 pp., 8¾ x 14¾ in.

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Official and attested copy of Virginia’s Ratification of the U.S. Constitution, together with a proposed Declaration of Rights and twenty other proposed amendments to the Constitution, signed by Virginia Ratification Convention President Edmund Pendleton and Secretary John J. Beckley. It is one of only three known surviving sets that the Convention ordered to be engrossed and sent to the other state executives or legislatures. The Convention also ordered that a set be sent to the Confederation Congress.

Item #27341, PRICE ON REQUEST

A History of Harvard University; North Carolina Debates Ratifying the Constitution; and a List of Newly-Minted U.S. Senators

[CONSTITUTION], Magazine. The Columbian Magazine, Philadelphia, Pa., December, 1788. 52 pp., 5 x 8 in. Lacking plates.

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Item #30007.048, $275

Maryland Ratifies the Constitution, Suggests Amendments; and Pennsylvanians Speak Out Against the Slave Trade

[CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. Independent Gazetteer; or, The Chronicle of Freedom, Philadelphia, Pa., May 6, 1788. 4 pp., 9½ x 11½ in.

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The Maryland ratifying convention suggests some amendments along with their approval of the Constitution.

Item #30007.003, $950

The New U.S. Senate Considers Bill to Organize the Federal Judiciary: Full Text of the Senate Bill to Establish the Supreme Court, Federal Judicial Districts and Circuit Courts, as Well as the Position of Attorney General

JUDICIARY ACT, U.S. SENATE DRAFT, The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser. Newspaper, June 29, 1789 (No. 3248). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18¼ in.

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the supreme court of the United States shall consist of a chief justice and five associate justices...and shall hold annually at the seat of the federal government two sessions....

The U.S. Constitution provided that the “judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and such inferior Courts,” leaving to Congress to establish the details. The Judiciary Act erected a three-tiered federal court system—the Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeals, and the District Courts—essentially the system in place today. The foremost issue was the relative power and authority to be respectively accorded the federal and state courts. The Judiciary Act’s most controversial provision empowered the Supreme Court to hear, at its discretion, appeals of verdicts reached in the state courts whenever those decisions were deemed to raise questions of constitutionality of state or federal laws. 

Item #24830, $1,650

U.S. Constitution – Contemporary List of States with Ratification Dates and Votes

[CONSTITUTION], Manuscript Document, ca. July 1788-1790. List of the first thirteen states and dates of ratification with votes. 1 p., 4 x 7 in.

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Item #24876, $3,500

Iconic Pillars Illustration -- Celebrating Massachusetts’ Ratification and the Process of Erecting the “great federal superstructure”

[CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. Massachusetts Centinel, February 13, 1788 (Volume VIII, pp. 171-174). Boston: Benjamin Russell. 4 pp., 9⅝ x 14⅞ in.

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This newspaper is replete with Constitution-related content, including minutes from the debates of Massachusetts’ State Ratifying Convention – everything from discourse on standing armies to Fisher Ames’ hearkening back to 1775 with, “WE MUST UNITE OR DIE”; a poem to Washington on his birthday; a fictional dialogue, The Federal Anti-Federalist, Returned to His Neighbours; a rare example of one of Benjamin Russell’s famed ‘Pillars’ illustration series; and a great deal of reporting on the popular reception of the news of ratification, expressed in particular by an enormous parade and surrounding celebrations.

Item #24836.99, $3,600

Connecticut Prepares for New Federal Constitution, Establishes Plan to Elect Senators and Representatives

[CONNECTICUT]. GEORGE WYLLYS, Printed Document Signed. Acts and Laws, Made and passed by the General Court, or Assembly of the State of Connecticut, in America: holden at New-Haven, (by Adjournment) on the first Thursday of January, Anno Dom. 1789. New Haven: Thomas and Samuel Green, 1789. Signed on first page, and docketed by Wyllys on final page, “Public Acts / Assembly / Jan’y 1789.” 8 pp., 7 ⅜ x 12 ½ in.

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Official printing of the fourteen Acts passed by the Connecticut Assembly in January 1789, includes “An Act for regulating the Election of Senators and Representatives, for this State, in the Congress of the United States.”

Item #24404, $3,750

Confederation Congress sends proposed Constitution to the states for ratification

[U.S. CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser. October 1, 1787 (No. 2700), Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole, including the September 28 resolution of the Confederation Congress to send to the states for ratification the recently completed U. S. Constitution. 4 pp., 12 x 18¾ in.

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Item #24135.99, $6,500

Rare “Address to the People of the State of Connecticut,” the Report of Delegates from 97 Towns Who Met to Call for a Democratic Non-Theocratic State Constitution

[CONNECTICUT], “Address to the People of the State of Connecticut,” broadsheet, August 29, 1804, New Haven, CT. Signed in type by William Judd, Chairman. 2 pp., 10½ x 18 in.

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An important document in American constitutional and religious history.

“Excellent as may appear the government of Connecticut to those, who have administered it… yet to us… it has been and is an unequal government, constantly tending to the increase of aristocracies and to the consequent humiliation of men and principles, friendly to our revolution. The government is indeed good for those, who have enjoyed all power and privileges under it…”

Three months earlier, Abraham Bishop gave an oration celebrating the re-election of President Jefferson. In it, he argued that the Declaration of Independence made the 1662 Royal Charter void, and that Connecticut’s General Assembly had “usurped the rights of the people” by preventing the passage of a State Constitution. “Thus all the abuses inflicted on us when subjects of a crown, were fastened on us anew... We still suffer from the old restrictions on the right to vote; we are still ruled by the whims of seven men…. Not only do they make laws, but they plead before justices of their own appointment, and … interpret the laws of their own making…. Is this an instrument of government for freemen?... We demand a constitution…”

On August 29, 1804, responding to Bishop’s call for a gathering in New-Haven to discuss replacing King Charles II’s Charter, delegates from 97 towns met, and adopted and ordered the printing of this Address. The Federalist-Congregationalist governing party reacted by warning that everyone should fear these radical Jeffersonian Democratic Republican underminers of all religion. “All the friends of stable government [should] support the Standing Order,”they said, as the five state justices who attended the meeting, including its chairman, were fired.  

The harsh reaction of Church and State government actually proved the point of the Address. But it still took the War of 1812, the trial of journalists and other political enemies by partisan judges, culture wars as the officially established Congregational church become more fundamentalist (ie, a “Society for the Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Good Morals,” ultimately causing many members to fly from the church of eternal damnation to less Calvinist denominations), the foundation of a Toleration Party that voted with Republicans, the collapse of the national Federalist Party, and the “Revolution of 1817” before succeeding. Fourteen years after this Address, a new Constitution that dis-established the Congregational Church and created separate executive, legislative and judicial branches in the “Constitution State.”

Item #26603.99, $7,500

Debating the Bill of Rights Amendments in 1789

[BILL OF RIGHTS], The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser. Newspaper, August 22, 1789 (No. 3295). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18¼ in.

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Mr. [Egbert] Benson [of New York] moved that the words ‘but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms,’ be struck out. He wished that this humane provision should be left to the wisdom and benevolence of government. It was improper to make it a fundamental in the constitution.”

This issue of the Pennsylvania Packet includes key debates in the House of Representatives on the developing set of amendments that were later ratified as the Bill of Rights. It also prints the Act establishing the War Department.

Item #24831, $7,500

Bill of Rights: First House of Representatives Draft, Rare July 31, 1789 Newspaper Printing

[BILL OF RIGHTS], The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser, July 31, 1789 (No. 3276). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11 x 18¼ in.

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On June 8, 1789, Congressman James Madison introduced his summary of proposed amendments to the Constitution. On July 21, John Vining of Delaware was appointed to chair a Committee of 11, with one member representing each state, as Rhode Island and North Carolina had yet to ratify the Constitution, to consider the subject.  This is the Report of Mr. Vining and the Committee “to whom it was referred to take the subject of Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, generally into their consideration...,” in essence the first Congressional draft of the Bill of Rights. The twenty words this report proposed to be added before the introductory phrase “We the people,” were not accepted by Congress. Revisions were made by both the House and the Senate, but within two months, this draft was edited down to twelve proposed amendments that Congress submitted to the states for ratification.

Item #26013.99, $12,000

Early Printing of the Original Twelve Articles of the Bill of Rights

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Acts Passed at the First [-Third] Session of the Congress of the United States of America, Begun and Held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the Fourth of March, in the Year M,DCC,LXXXIX. Philadelphia: Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, 1791. 3 volumes bound in one, 8vo (368 x 305 mm, uncut). Library stamp on B1 of the first session, repair to lower right corner of Yy4 in the third session. Modern quarter morocco over marbled boards.

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Early reprint of Childs and Swaine’s first official printing, which was issued in New York in 1789. This issue appeared in Philadelphia after the nation’s capital was moved there, and the printers had set up shop. All early printings are scarce, especially those of the first three sessions.

Item #26629.99, $20,000

Connecticut Broadsheet Reports Ratification of U.S. Constitution by Rhode Island, Hamilton’s Funding and Assumption Plans, and Other Debates

[CONSTITUTION], Broadsheet, Supplement to the Connecticut Courant, Aug. 23, 1790. Hartford: Barzillai Hudson and George Goodwin. 2 pp., 10 x 14⅜ in.

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A message was received from the President of the United States, with the ratification of the Constitution of the United States by the State of Rhode Island.” (p1/c1)

This very rare broadside Supplement to the Connecticut Courant details congressional proceedings from June 16-25, 1790, including the announcement of the ratification of the Constitution by Rhode Island, debates surrounding the assumption of state war debts by the federal government, a bill regulating trade with Native American tribes, a committee report on books “necessary for the use of Congress,” a committee report on providing “the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations,” and other matters.

Item #26597, $35,000

Constitutional Convention, Pennsylvania Ratification Debates, More, in 1787 Newspaper Run

[U.S. CONSTITUTION], The Pennsylvania Herald, and General Advertiser, January 3 to December 29, 1787. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, Christopher Talbot, and William Spotswood. Bound volume of 83 issues of 4 pages each. 332 pp., 11 x 19 x 1½ in. Normally published semi-weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but from September 11 to October 6, it was published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. (Lacking issues of Jan. 20, 24, 27, 31, Feb. 3, 7, 17, 24, March 17, May 9, 12, 16, 23, July 4, 14, 18, 28, Aug. 11, Sept. 11, 20, 29, Oct. 2, 31, Dec. 1, 5.)

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The year 1776 is celebrated, says a correspondent, for a revolution in favour of liberty. The year 1787, it is expected will be celebrated with equal joy, for a revolution in favour of government. The impatience with which all classes of people wait to receive the new federal constitution, can only be equalled by their zealous determination to support it.” Sept. 8, 1787.

This fascinating extensive run of the Pennsylvania Herald gives a sense of the anticipation over the results of the closed-door U.S. Constitutional Convention, which deliberated from May through September in Philadelphia. It follows with in-depth coverage of the debates in the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention in November and December, also in Philadelphia.

Item #24828, $48,000