Resolved, that the Commonwealth be divided into eight districts

MASSACHUSETTS   |   John HANCOCK

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RARE 1790 BROADSIDE DIVIDING MASSACHUSETTS INTO DISTRICTS FOR THE ELECTION OF ITS EIGHT REPRESENTATIVES TO THE FIRST U.S. CONGRESS, WITH PRINTED SIGNATURE OF JOHN HANCOCK

HANCOCK, John. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In the House of Representatives, June 14, 1790. Resolved. That the Commonwealth be, and hereby is divided into eight districts, for the purpose of electing eight persons to represent the people thereof in Congress of the United States. Boston: Printed by Thomas Adams, 1790. Broadside, original sheet measuring 13-1/2 by 17 inches, printed on recto only, mounted on Japanese tissue. $3000.

Original printed broadside, signed in type by John Hancock, then Governor of Massachusetts, the 1790 resolution dividing the state into eight districts for electing representatives to the first United States Congress.

Boston merchant John Hancock became identified with the patriot cause in 1768 when British “customs officers seized his sloop Liberty on charges of smuggling… [and] Hancock was portrayed as a victim of oppression and a martyr to the patriot cause.” In 1774 Hancock was elected president of the state’s Provincial Congress, then in December named a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and chosen its president in May 1775. Hancock’s “greatest moment came on 4 July 1776 when with characteristic flair he was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence.” Shortly after his return to Massachusetts, the state adopted its constitution “and by an overwhelming margin elected Hancock the first governor of the commonwealth.” Briefly stepping down from office for two years, he continued in office until 1793. At a time of national debate over the Articles of Confederation, Hancock made a speech that “was a turning point in persuading Massachusetts to ratify the Constitution” (ANB). As governor he also presided over passage of this Commonwealth of Massachusetts resolution establishing the state’s electoral procedures and dividing the state into eight electoral districts for sending representatives to the United States First Congress. Those first representatives included several former delegates to the Continental Congress, among them Elbridge Gerry, who like Hancock had been one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Gerry became the country’s fifth Vice-President but is perhaps best known as the namesake of gerrymandering, that practice of redrawing electoral districts in order to aid the dominant political party. After issuance of this resolution, the 1790 census increased the state’s representatives from eight to 14 and Massachusetts altered its districting to four, electing representatives on a general ticket. After 1795, however, Massachusetts returned to the plan of single-representative districts as described here. Document dated June 18, 1790. With ornamental headpiece, printed in two columns above printed date of June 18, 1790, and printed signature of John Hancock, along with those of David Cobb, Samuel Phillips and John Avery. Bristol B7410. Shipton & Mooney 45904.

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