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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Constitutional documents and records, 1776-1787

Rhoads, James Berton
[Foreword] Foreword,   pp. 5-[8]

Page 5

In 1911 Max Farrand published in three volumes the Records of
the Federal Convention, presenting with scholarly authority the
documentary history of the writing of the Constitution. Farrand's
achievement has long challenged American scholars to continue his
work and to produce a similar documentary record of the ratification
of the Constitution.
With the exception of Jonathan Elliot's Debates, Resolutions, and
Other Proceedings in Convention on the Adoption of the Federal
Constitution, now over one hundred and thirty years old, and the
Documentary History of the Constitution, published by the Depart-
ment of State in the nineteenth century, historians have limited their
studies of the ratification of the Constitution to single states. His-
tories of ratification have not been written for all of the states. Of
those which do exist, some contain fragmentary documentary material,
but their obvious purpose has been to present an historical narrative
of the particular state's share in ratification. In some cases, the his-
tory of ratification in a state is confined to a chapter or two in a
book of broader scope. There is, however, no scholarly and compre-
hensive documentary history of the ratification process of the Con-
stitution or of the first ten amendments for all of the states. The
reason for this is obvious. Such a project was clearly much more
than a one-man job, and it called for substantial financing. It is
to be hoped that the publication of the present documentary history
will encourage and provide materials for scholarly studies in the
areas of ratification not yet covered by monographic works.
The establishment of the National Historical Publications Com-
mission, created by the National Archives Act of 1934, brought to-
gether a group of prominent men, under the chairmanship of the
Archivist of the United States, who were deeply interested in this
kind of historical venture and whose official voice could command
attention. At its first meeting in January 1935, the new Commission
had placed before it a resolution adopted the month before by the
council of the American Historical Association, urging early consid-
eration of a program of publication of documentary material relating
to the history of the Constitution. Such consideration was given. At

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