CONSTITUTION, United States
The Constitution framed for the United States of America ... [within The American Museum or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces ... for September, 1787 ... Vol. II, No. III ... The Second Edition]
Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, March 22, 1792. Octavo. , -312pp., with the Constitution appearing on pages 276-284.
18th-century paper wrappers.
An early printing of the Constitution within a monthly issue of America's first literary magazine.
The American Museum, America's first literary magazine, was a pioneering effort on the part of its publisher, Mathew Carey, to bring news to a national audience, and to develop and promote an indigenous literary culture. Carey began The American Museum on the heels of a failed partnership with other printers called the Columbian Magazine. Carey's original goal in his solo venture was to cull from other sources the best essays on political, economic, and cultural subjects, as well as poetry and prose, and offer it to a national audience. Despite the note to the reader in his first issue apologizing for his journal being "destitute as it is of originality," he soon began to publish original work. A favorable opinion of the Museum from George Washington, often reprinted in advertisements, enhanced its reputation. Carey cast a wide net in soliciting writers and topics for his periodical. Among the distinguished contributors were Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, James Bowdoin, David Rittenhouse, Benjamin West, Jeremy Belknap, Ezra Stiles, Noah Webster, H.M. Brackenridge, Joel Barlow, Timothy Dwight, Benjamin Rush, Joel Dickinson, and Tench Coxe. All of the major issues of the day, as well as scientific and cultural events, found a place in its pages. Not the least of these are the debates surrounding the Constitution, but also internal improvements, manufactures, agriculture, and the general state of the nation, as well as poetry and varied prose. The success of The American Museum helped establish Mathew Carey as the leading printer of his generation. Through the publication of the periodical he was able to develop a distribution network which greatly aided him in coming years as he became a leading book publisher. A congressional change in postal rates for magazines in 1792 forced Carey to end The American Museum in order "to have recourse to some other object that might afford a better reward to industry." The appearance of the Federal Constitution in the September 1787 issue was one of the first contemporary printings of the document. The present example is the second edition of the issue when the back issues of the magazine were reprinted in 1792.
Chielens, American Literary Magazines, pp.19-24; James N. Green, Mathew Carey, Publisher and Patriot, pp.6-7.