"THE MAGNA CARTA OF THE UNITED STATES": VERY SCARCE FIRST ENGLISH EDITION OF THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE SEVERAL INDEPENDENT STATES OF AMERICA, 1782
(CONSTITUTION). The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America; The Declaration of Independence; The Articles of Confederation Between the Said States; The Treaties Between His Most Christian Majesty and the United States of America. Philadelphia Printed: London Reprinted: For J. Stockdale, 1782. Octavo, period-style full speckled brown calf, raised bands, black morocco spine label; pp. (i-v), vi-viii, (1)-56, *49-*52, 57-168. $6200.
First English edition of the collected constitutions of the newly independent American states, issued only one year after the first American edition of 200 copies, the first collected Constitutions of the Several States to contain the constitutions of the 13 original states, the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution—"the oldest functioning written constitution in the world"—the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and key treaties, handsomely bound.
Shortly after publication of this seminal first English edition of The Constitutions, the Monthly Review noted: "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 the Magna Carta of the United American States." Constitutional scholars have fully documented the powerful influence of these state constitutions on the creation of America's 1787 Federal Constitution. Herein are the constitutions of the 13 original states, including those passed in 1776 by states such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and North Carolina, as well as the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, authored by John Adams—"one of the great enduring documents of the American Revolution" (McCullough, 225). Also included are printings of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the 1778 Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France (the first treaty between the United States and any other country) and the 1778 Treaty of Alliance with France. Preceded by first American edition, published in Philadelphia in 1781 in an edition limited to only 200 copies. This first English edition notably contains an Editor's Advertisement, "not found in any American edition" describing differences between the new American government and those of Britain and Europe (Matyas). With page 156 paginated "56" as issued without loss of text. Adams 81-74b. Howes C716. Sabin 16087. ESTC T138360. Cohen 3018. Matyas 82-02. Goldsmiths 12259. See Sabin 16086; Evans 17390. OCLC lists 37 copies: including the American Philosophical Society, Library of Congress, Yale, Harvard and Oxford. Owner inkstamp above leaf following title page.
Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing and embrowning, trace of occasional marginal dampstaining. An extremely good copy handsomely bound.