"THE OLDEST FUNCTIONING WRITTEN CONSTITUTION IN THE WORLD": 1805 EDITION OF THE MASSACHUSETTS CONSTITUTION, WITH U.S. CONSTITUTION & WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL ADDRESS, RARE 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. Brookfield: Isaiah Thomas, Jun., 1805. Small octavo (4-1/2 by 7 inches), original boards early rebacked in brown sheep; pp. (1-3), 4-108. $950.
First Brookfield edition of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, preceded by the same year's first Boston edition—"one of the great enduring documents of the American Revolution"—published together in one volume with the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Washington's 1796 Farewell Address, this Brookfield edition issued same year as the Boston first edition, stating: "Printed by Order of the General Court of the Common-Wealth of Massachusetts," 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). First Brookfield, Massachusetts edition: issued same year as the Boston first edition (see Matyas 05-03). Published the year Jefferson began his second presidential term: containing a printing of the Massachusetts Constitution, along with the federal Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Washington's 1796 Farewell Address." Title page with: "Printed by Order of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." Matyas 95-05. Shaw & Shoemaker 8862. Sabin 45692.
Text very fresh, mild soiling, trace of edge-wear to original boards. A very elusive near-fine copy.