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Constitution and Bill of Rights

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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, $12,000

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

One of the Earliest Announcements of Independence

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, The Pennsylvania Magazine; Or American Monthly Museum for January-July, 1776. Philadelphia: Robert Aitken. [5]-344pp.

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A bound volume containing a remarkable issue—one of the most historic magazines ever printed.

July 2.  This day the Hon. Continental Congress declared the UNITED COLONIES FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.

Item #21422.99, $42,000

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

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

The United States Constitution – Early Connecticut Printing

[CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. The New-Haven Gazette, and The Connecticut Magazine. September 27, 1787. M.DCC.LXXXVII (No 32.) Printed and Published by Josiah Meigs. Signed in type by George Washington and the other 38 delegates who signed the Constitution. 8 pp. Quarto (8.625 x 10.125 inches). ([249]-256, though what should be page 255 is mis-numbered 247, as is the case with the other copies we have seen of this edition). Accompanied by title and index leaves printed slightly later, for binding after end of year.

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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 of the United States of America.”

Item #26098, $20,000

Bill of Rights: Early N.Y. Printing of First Draft Approved by the House of Representatives - 17 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, August 29, 1789. New York: John Fenno. Includes a complete printing of the first House of Representatives proposal for amending the Constitution on page 2. 4 pp., 10 x 15¾ in.

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Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed.

The freedom of speech, and of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and consult for their common good, and to apply to the government for a redress of grievances, shall not be infringed.

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed....

After months of work, on August 24, 1789, the House of Representatives approved seventeen Constitutional amendments, including the first to use the exact phrase, “freedom of speech.” This newspaper includes the full text of the resolution sent by the House to the Senate for approval. The Senate began deliberating the next day, approving some articles and rejecting or altering others.

Item #25430, $12,000

Ratification of The Bill of Rights

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Columbian Centinel, March 14, 1792. Boston, Mass.: Benjamin Russell. 4 pp., 10½ x 16½ in.

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Item #25046, $6,000

Rare French Facsimile of the Declaration of Independence

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Copperplate engraving, “In Congress, July 4, 1776, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America…” Paris: Kaeppelin & Cie, 15 Quai Voltaire; engraved by F. Lepelle. [1840.] 25 x 32 in. Framed 30¾ x 38 in. 1p.

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Scarce French reproduction based on William J. Stone’s official copperplate facsimile done by order of Congress. This French edition was produced for an 1840 adaptation of Jared Sparks’s Life and Writings of Washington, appearing as plate 22 in the atlas accompanying the multi-volume work.

Item #20627.99, $20,000

Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures

BENJAMIN OWEN TYLER, Broadside, Drawn by Tyler and engraved by Peter Maverick, [Washington, D.C., 1818]. 1 p., 23⅞ x 31 in., archivally framed to approx. 32 x 40 in.

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“In Congress, July 4th 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.”

Item #23683, $29,000

The American Museum Magazine Considers Race and Slavery, Bound Together with Congressional Proceedings
on the Bill of Rights

MATHEW CAREY, Magazine. The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, &c. Volume VI, July to December, 1789. 492 pp., plus 46 pp. bound in, Proceedings of Congress, from the First Session of the First Congress, including the process of amending the U.S. Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights. With ownership signature of Connecticut Revolutionary War General Jedediah Huntington on free front endpaper. Dedicated in type to George Washington. Bound in contemporary calf, binding worn, small library label on spine, some staining on title page, several pages trimmed near end, with minor loss of text, primitive drawings of soldiers on back endpaper.

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Item #22660, $2,400

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