Constitution of the State of Massachusetts

MASSACHUSETTS   |   George WASHINGTON   |   John ADAMS

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"THE OLDEST FUNCTIONING WRITTEN CONSTITUTION IN THE WORLD": MASSACHUSETTS CONSTITUTION, 1805 BOSTON PRINTING WITH THE DECLARATION, U.S. CONSTITUTION & WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL ADDRESS, IN ORIGINAL BOARDS

(MASSACHUSETTS) (CONSTITUTION) ADAMS, John. Constitution of the State of Massachusetts, and that of the United States; The Declaration of Independence, with President Washington's Farewell Address. Boston: Printed and Sold by Manning & Loring, 1805. Small octavo (4-1/2 by 7 inches), original boards early rebacked in brown sheep; pp. (1-3), 4-54, (55-57), 58-84, (85-87), 88-92, (93-95), 96-119 (1).

Rare 1805 Boston edition of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution—"one of the great enduring documents of the American Revolution"—to be published together in one volume with the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Washington's 1796 Farewell Address, in original boards.

The 1780 Massachusetts Constitution "is the oldest functioning written constitution in the world… [and] one of the most admirable, long-lasting achievements of John Adams' life… A Declaration of Rights, following the Preamble and preceding the Constitution itself," stated in Adams' initial draft that "all men were 'born equally free and independent'—words Adams had taken from the Virginia Declaration of Rights." Though the Massachusetts constitutional convention would "approve nearly all of his draft," it preferred "what Jefferson had written in the Declaration of Independence… [and] revised the first article of the Declaration of Rights, that all men were 'born equally free and independent,' to read that all men were 'born free and equal." "As time would prove, Adams had written one of the great, enduring documents of the American Revolution" (McCullough, John Adams, 220-25). 1805 edition of the Massachusetts Constitution, published the year Jefferson began his second presidential term, with a printing of that groundbreaking work along with the federal Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Washington's 1796 Farewell Address. This Matyas "second edition… first issue" is a stop-press printing issued almost immediately as the same year's first edition with its signature "I" still in the press; title page with imprint "Printed and Sold by Manning & Loring" instead of "Printed for the state, by Manning & Loring"; printer's advertisement following page 119 with "fine copies one dol. 25cts." instead of "price one dol. 25 cts." Sabin, along with Shaw and Shoemaker, "do not differentiate between the first and second editions" (Matyas 05-04a; Matyas 05-04b). Sabin 45692. Shaw & Shoemaker 8861. Faint numerical notation to corner of rear board.

Text very fresh with mere trace of scattered foxing, mild edge-wear, soiling to original boards. A rare near-fine copy.

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