Posts Tagged ‘Constitutional history’

Archives and Special Collections staff regularly work with classes to show how rare books and manuscripts offer interesting perspectives on contemporary life, as well as shedding light on past events. As we approach the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States this September 17, even a quick survey of ongoing political debates reveals the continued relevance of this historical document. These clashes are not new.

The text of the new Constitution, printed in the Massachusetts Gazette, September 28, 1787. So that citizens would be able to read the Constitution, the text was printed in papers throughout the Republic. Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.

Debate over the substance and meaning of the Constitution is part of the document’s legacy. The text submitted to the states for ratification was itself  the product of great compromise by the representatives present at the Constitutional Convention. At the close of the convention, Benjamin Franklin said, “…when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does.”


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