"IT DEPENDS ON THE STATE ITSELF… WHETHER IT WILL CONTINUE A MEMBER OF THE UNION:": RARE FIRST EDITION OF RAWLE'S INFLUENTIAL VIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION, 1825
RAWLE, William. A View of the Constitution of the United States of America. Philadelphia: H.C. Carey & I. Lea, 1825. Octavo, period-style three-quarter brown calf and marbled boards, red morocco spine label. $8000.
First edition of Rawle's groundbreaking study of the Constitution—the "first authoritative interpretation" of the right of state secession—a powerful influence on "subsequent leaders and supporters of the Confederacy, although in fact Rawle opposed secession.
Rawle's early and highly influential study of the U.S. Constitution contains a foundational consideration of the rights of states to secede and offers a major consideration of the several powers in the Constitution, including freedom of speech and the scope of the Second Amendment. This is the "first authoritative interpretation in which was admitted the abstract right of state secession. These views exerted a profound influence on Southern political thought" (Howes). Rawle's View of the Constitution, with its crucial views on the right of secession, "was used as a textbook for many years at West Point… It is therefore generally considered to have influenced subsequent leaders and supporters of the Confederacy, although in fact Rawle opposed secession" (Cohen). "Elected to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1789, Rawle declined Washington's repeated offers to serve as the first Attorney General. He accepted Washington's appointment as U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania, however, and held the post from 1792 to 1800."
Rawle also greatly influenced legal interpretations of the 2nd Amendment in this work. "Writing a century and a half before the Congressional power 'to regulate commerce… among the several States' was construed as a power to ban the simple intrastate possession of firearms, Rawle stated that, even putting the 2nd Amendment aside, Congress would have no power to disarm the people" (Kopel, Brigham Young University Law Review). A trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and first president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Rawle also founded Rawle and Henderson, the law firm with the longest continuous practice in the United States. Sabin 68003. Howes R77. Cohen 2893. Shoemaker 22035. Harvard Law Catalogue, 426. NYU, 401. Warren, 541. Faint ownership signature of William Samuel Johnson, likely a descendant of the signer of the Declaration of Independence of the same name.
Some foxing to text; binding attractive and fine.