"MAY BE CONSIDERED THE MAGNA CHARTA OF THE UNITED STATES": IMPORTANT 1785 PRINTING OF THE FIRST 13 STATES' CONSTITUTIONS
(CONSTITUTION). The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America; the Declaration of Independence; the Articles of Confederation Between the Said States; The Treaties… Boston: Norman and Bowen, 1785. 12mo (4-3/4 by 6-3/4 inches), contemporary full brown sheep, raised bands. $3800.
Second American edition (preceded in America only by the rare first edition of 200 copies), handsome in contemporary American sheep binding.
First printed in Philadelphia in 1781 in an edition of only 200 copies, this volume was the "first authoritative and original printed text of these important documents… [It] contains a greater portion of unsophisticated wisdom and good sense than is perhaps to be met with in any other legislative code that was ever yet framed. It is, in short, the book which may be considered as the Magna Charta of the United States" (Sabin 16086). Many constitutional scholars—most notably Willi Paul Williams in The First American Constitutions—have demonstrated that the political systems of the state constitutions were vital to the construction of the Federal Constitution of 1787. This edition also marks the first Boston printing of these important American documents. Preceded also by the 1782 and 1783 London editions. Sabin 16092. Howes C716. ESTC W20082. Evans 19306. Title page with contemporary owner signature of Thomas Bond, dated 1788. Contemporary inscription to preliminary leaf of Thomas Bond noting its purchase price and from whom he bought the book. Later owner inscription of bibliophile Eliza Leiper Woolford.
Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, small bit of expert repair to spine and cornering. An extremely good copy, desirable in contemporary sheep.