Lot 11
  • 11

Articles of Confederation

Estimate
50,000 - 75,000 USD
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Description

  • ink and paper
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the States of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia. Lancaster, (Pennsylvania) Printed: Boston: Re-printed by John Gill, Printer to the General Assembly, 1777

Folio (12 3/8 7 1/2 in.; 315 x 190 mm). Title-page foxed, some splotching. Half calf over marbled boards in period style, spine in six compartments gilt (one reserved for red lettering piece).



Bound with:
The Constitution or Frame of Government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston: Printed by Benjamin Edes and Sons, Printers to His Excellency the Governor, the Council, and Senate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1781. Browned throughout.



And with:
Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston: Printed by Benjamin Edes and Sons, Printers to His Excellency the Governor, the Council, and Senate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1781 [–1783]. Table bound in before title-page, manuscript annotation to table regarding law on p. 123 (under "N"), quires Ii–Mm and Pp , Rr printed on blue paper; browned throughout, some staining, paper flaw to E1 causing loss of text in several lines, pressman's ink smears marring text on Q1,

Provenance

Acquisition: William Reese

Literature

Articles of Confederation: Evans 15623; Church 1142; O. & M. Handlin, Commonwealth (Cambridge, 1969), pp. 24–31; North American Imprints Project w0044587; Sabin 2142; Streeter sale 1:787

Constitution: Evans 17229; North American Imprints Project w004587; Sabin 45691

Acts and Laws: Evans 17212–17215, 17589–17592, 18022; North American Imprints Project w015077

Condition

Articles of Confederation: Title-page foxed, some splotching. Half calf over marbled boards in period style, spine in six compartments gilt (one reserved for red lettering piece). Constitution: Browned throughout. Acts and Laws: Table bound in before title-page, manuscript annotation to table regarding law on p. 123 (under "N"), quires Ii–Mm and Pp , Rr printed on blue paper; browned throughout, some staining, paper flaw to E1 causing loss of text in several lines, pressman's ink smears marring text on Q1,
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

Catalogue Note

The first system of government of the United States, the cornerstone of any Americana collection. A grand experiment, a nation composed of independent states, voluntarily joining together for common defenses, diplomacy, and a few other responsibilities, this furthest (and sadly premature) expression of "States' rights" resulted in dismal failure. The close of the year 1786 found the Articles of Confederation in widespread discredit, and many national leaders eager to refashion it with a stronger central government.

First printed in Lancaster, while Congress met there during the British occupation of Philadelphia, this is the first Boston edition and the fifth edition overall listed by Evans. It includes two other Congressional resolutions, asking that the text be forwarded to the state legislatures, and asking the states to contribute cash (not bills of credit) for the prosecution of the war.

The Articles of Confederation is bound with the first folio printing (and second overall) of the final ratified constitution for the Massachusetts commonwealth.  A more radical constitution had been proposed in 1778 granting suffrage to all males except African-Americans, Native Americans, and mulattos but it was rejected. "In some respects the constitution of 1780 remedied the defects of its predecessor ... A bill of rights assured to each citizen 'the security of his person and property' as an unassailable condition to the social contract. A strong executive with extensive veto powers, an independent judiciary appointed for good behavior, and a senate representing property effectively restrained the house of representatives, the only popular branch of government" (Oscar and Mary Handlin). The Handlins also recognize John Adams's pivotal role in crafting the 1780 constitution.

The sammelband also contains a complete run of the laws of Massachusetts passed from October 1780 to March 1783. As the war was still raging in the South and in New York, many of the bills call for raising funds, establishing a state lottery to fund clothing for troops, the seizure of property of "conspirators," and the creation of a new militia act.