CONSTITUTION, United States
Debates, Resolutions and other Proceedings of the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ... for the Purpose of Assenting to and Ratifying the Constitution Recommended by the Grand Federal Convention
Boston: Adams and Nourse, 1788. Octavo. 219, pp.
Contemporary calf, spine with raised bands. Housed in a cloth box.
Provenance: J. Parker (early signature)
The debates of the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention.
"The Constitution might well be considered the central document of all American political discourse ... An evolving rather than static document, its text has never left a central place in American political discourse" (Reese). The struggle to ratify the Constitution can be viewed as the first national, grassroots political campaign in the United States. The differences between the Federalists, who advocated for passage of the new frame of government, and the Anti-Federalists, was significant and ratification was by no means assured. When the Confederation Congress resolved to send the Constitution to the states for ratification on recommendation by the Convention and George Washington himself, they intended it to be voted upon on its face. In Massachusetts, however, anti-federalist opposition was significant. In order to mollify their concerns, delegate to the convention Theophilus Parsons added nine amendments, which were presented by John Hancock (dramatically arising from his sick bed to deliver them). Thus, the Constitution was ratified by Massachusetts with the amendments added as a recommendation to "remove the fears, and quiet the apprehensions of many of the good people of this Commonwealth, and more effectually guard against an undue administration of the federal government." Three of these recommendations would become the Fifth, Seventh and Tenth Amendments of Constitution. The sixth state to ratify the Constitution, Massachusetts was the first to suggest amendments, which in turn led directly to the passage of the Bill of Rights. The present work includes a printing of the proposed Constitution on pages 3-19, the text of George Washington's letter on the ratification process, the debates of the 9 January to 7 February 1788 convention (including the aforementioned speech by Hancock), the proposed amendments and the details of the narrow 187-168 vote.
Evans 21242; Ford 97; Reese, Federal Hundred 21; Sabin 45702; Sowerby 3008.