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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Schoenleber, Charles H. (ed.) / Commentaries on the Constitution, public and private. Volume 6: 10 May to 13 September 1788
18 (1995)

[Cover],   pp. [unnumbered]-[ii]


The Documentary History of the Ratification of the
Constitution is a research tool of remarkable power.
The volumes are encyclopedic, consisting of man-
uscript and printed documents compiled from
hundreds of sources, thoroughly annotated and in-
dexed. The Documentary History is an unrivalled ref-
erence work for historical and legal scholars, librar-
ians, and students of the United States Constitution.
Commentaries on the Constitution: Public and Private,
a six-volume series, is an integral but autonomous
part of The Documentary History. The documents in
this series present the day-by-day regional and na-
tional debate over the Constitution that took place
in newspapers, magazines, broadsides, pamphlets,
and private letters. Volume 6 of Commentaries covers
the four-month period from 10 May through 13
September 1788. During this time, the conventions
of South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, and
New York ratified the Constitution with recommen-
datory amendments to be submitted to the first fed-
eral Congress. In early August, North Carolina's
Convention adjourned after voting not to ratify the
Constitution until a bill of rights and other amend-
ments were adopted. After receiving word that New
Hampshire had ratified, the ninth state to do so, the
Confederation Congress started considering plans
for the first federal elections under the Constitution.
The election ordinance was enacted on 13 Septem-
ber 1788.
This sixth volume of Commentaries contains ap-
proximately 200 documents almost equally divided
between letters and newspaper items. Forty-three
letters were written by Federalists, twenty-eight by
Antifederalists, and seventeen by foreign diplomats
resident in America (fifteen French and two Dutch).
The second volume of The Federalist was published
on 28 May. Its 390 pages contain the last forty-nine
essays written by "Publius," including the last eight
(78 to 85) which had not appeared in any newspaper.
No other widely-circulated serialized newspaper es-
says (Federalist or Antifederalist) were published
during the period of this volume. Individual news-
paper items consist of addresses by Tench Coxe of
Philadelphia to both the Virginia and New York con-
ventions; printings of the amendments to the Con-
stitution proposed by South Carolina, New Hamp-
shire, Virginia, New York, and North Carolina; and
a number of accounts of orations, processions, and
celebrations of ratification and the Fourth of July,
which portrayed the Constitution as the culmination
of the Revolution.
Many of the letters in this volume have never been
printed in modern, accessible documentary editions.
Seven members of the French diplomatic corps in
the United States wrote a total of fifteen extremely
insightful letters that appear in this volume. Few of
these letters have been published previously-cer-
tainly none has been translated into English. The
Antifederalist correspondence illuminates the intri-
(continued on back flap)


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