“THE MAGNA CARTA OF THE UNITED AMERICAN STATES”: SCARCE EXPANDED ENGLISH EDITION OF THE CONSTITUTIONS, 1783, WITH FRONTISPIECE PORTRAIT OF WASHINGTON
(CONSTITUTION). The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America; The Declaration of Independence; The Articles of Confederation Between the Said States; To Which are now Added, The Declaration of Rights… The Whole Arranged, With a Preface and Dedication, By the Rev. William Jackson. London: Printed for J. Stockdale, 1783. Octavo, contemporary full speckled brown calf, red morocco spine label; pp. (4), xxix, (3), 472, (4). Housed in a custom folding chemise and half morocco slipcase. $2500.
1783 greatly expanded English edition, variant second state, of the Constitutions of the 13 newly independent American states, published only one year after the first English edition, with early printings of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and important U.S.-French treaties, this substantially expanded edition of particular interest in containing the 1774 Declaration of Rights (forerunner of the Declaration); the 1774 Non-Importation Agreement, the Petition to the King and one of the first printings (certainly the first English) of the U.S.-Dutch treaty of June 7, 1782, America’s first with a nation other than France—none present in the first American or English editions—scarce in contemporary calf, in a custom chemise and slipcase.
This scarce 1783 expanded English edition of The Constitutions contains early printings of the Declaration and Articles of Confederation, the October 1774 Declaration of Rights (forerunner of the Declaration), the 1774 Non-Importation Agreement (America’s congressional answer to taxation without representation), the 1778 Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France (the first between the U.S.and another country), the Treaty of Alliance with France, and the Provisional Articles signed by the U.S. and Great Britain in November 1782, which, with very minor changes, became the final treaty signed the next year. Also featured is one of the first printings (certainly one of the first English) of the important 1782 U.S.-Dutch treaty—the first with a country other than France—and the final Petition of Congress to the King, delivered by William Penn. Shortly after publication of the 1782 edition of The Constitutions, the Monthly Review called it “the book which may be considered the Magna Carta of the United American States.” Also containing the charter of Rhode Island and constitutions of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Preceded by the 1781 American edition of only 200 copies and the 1782 first English edition, neither of which included the Declaration of Rights, the Petition to the King, the Non-Importation Agreement, or the Dutch treaty. First edition, state 2: “Except for the words ‘Second Edition’ [to title page], the sheets for state 1 and state 2 have the same setting, including the title leaves. It is supposed that initially the title page lacked the words ‘Second Edition’ and a few sheets were printed. But to distinguish this edition from the London edition of 1782, the words ‘Second Edition’ were added via a stop-press correction” (Matyas 83-02). With scarce frontispiece portrait of Washington; “List of the Presidents of the American Congress,” three-pages of publisher’s ads at rear. Adams 83-53b. Cohen 3020. Howes C716. ESTC T138353. Sabin 16088. See Evans 17390; Adams 83-53a. Bookplate.
Interior very clean, front joint cracked but intact, slight edge-wear, rubbing to gilt-lettered spine. A highly desirable extremely good copy of this early constitutional volume.