[CONSTITUTION, RATIFICATION]. The United States in Congress Assembled, Friday, September 28, 1787. Present--New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia, and from Maryland Mr. Ross. Congress lately having received the Report of the Convention lately assembled in Philadelphia, Resolved unanimously, That the said Report, with the Resolutions and Letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the People therof, in Conformity to the Resolves of the Convention...Charles Thompson, Secretary. Philadelphia: Printed by Dunlap & Claypoole, [ca. 28 September 1787].
4to, broadside (11 7/8 x 9¾ in.), printed in roman and italic types, original deckle edges of the sheet preserved; light, even age-toning.
CONGRESS SUBMITS THE NEW CONSTITUTION TO THE STATES, TAKING A CRITICAL FIRST STEP TOWARDS RATIFICATION
On September 17, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention assembled at Philadelphia's State House for the last time. Called to order by Washington, they listened to a final reading of the text of the proposed charter of government, a plan hammered out in 4 months of exacting and acrimonious debate. After all the delegates (except Gerry, Randolph and Mason) had affixed their signatures, James Wilson read a valedictory message of Benjamin Franklin, concluding with the observation "I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best." The final text was dispatched to John Dunlap and David Calypoole, official printers to Congress, who issued the full text late that day, and reprinted the text in the September 19 issue of the Pennsylvania Packet.
The Constitutional Convention specified (in Article VII) the steps by which the new charter would be adopted: 1) transmission of proposed Constitution and resolutions to Congress; 2) transmission of the proposed Constitution and resolutions by Congress to the state legislatures; 3) election of delegates to ratification conventions in each state to consider the proposed Constitution; and 4) ratification by a least nine states to place the proposed Constitution in operation. As Bernstein points out, though, the ratification process faced numerous obstacles which might prove fatal: "the Confederation Congress might refuse to send the Constitution to the states, on the ground that the Convention had violated its limited mandate to propose modifications to the Articles" (Are We to be A Nation?: The Making of the Constitution, p.201). When the Constitution was presented to Congress (on September 20), opponents, led by Richard Henry Lee, objected that it far exceeded the Convention's original mandate. They urged Congress to rewrite it. Supporters, led by James Madison, successfully resisted these motions, and proposed the draft be sent to the states with a favorable recommendation from Congress. After three days of heated debate, a compromise was worked out: Congress sent the Constitution on to the state legislatures, without favorable comment and "recommended that the states hold elections for ratifying conventions as provided for by the Convention's resolutions" (Bernstein, p.203).
This broadside, printed by Congress's official printers, embodies that critical compromise, one by which it was agreed to formally submit the new compact of government to the state legislatures. Finally, the arduous process of ratification by the separate states could begin. Evans 20790 (citing, as does Shipton & Mooney only one copy, at the Library of Congress).