Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Lot 248

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A printed copy of the proposed 1820 amendments to the Massachusetts State Constitution, the first revisions made since its adoption in 1780. Titled, "Amendments to the Constitution Proposed by the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for the ratification and adoption of The People thereof." folio, 4 pp., [Boston] Jan. 9, 1821 with contemporary ownership signature of S. J. PRESCOTT (1773 - 1857), presumably a delegate to the convention, with additional marginalia in his hand, recording votes and occasionally underscoring text. The articles of amendments, fourteen in all, appear on pages one and two. The last two pages carry Isaac Parker's address. The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 contained a provision providing for taking in 1795, the sense of the people as to the expediency or necessity of revising the original document. But no such revision was thought necessary at the time. On June 16th, 1820, an act was passed by the General Court, calling upon the people to meet in their several towns and cast their votes on the question: "Is it expedient that delegates should be chosen to meet in Convention for the purpose of revising or altering the Constitution of Government of this Commonwealth?" After a large majority of the people of the State voted in favor of revision, the Governor issued a proclamation calling upon the people to vote for delegates to the proposed Convention. The delegates met at the State House, in Boston, November 15th, 1820, and chose John Adams, President, and Benjamin Pollard, Secretary. Adams, declined the appointment, and Isaac Parker was chosen in his stead. On January 9th, 1821, the Convention agreed to fourteen Articles of Amendment, and after passing a Resolution which provided for submitting these proposed amendments to the people, and appointing a committee to meet to count the votes upon the subject, was dissolved. The people voted on Monday, April 9th, 1821, and the Committee of the Convention met at the State House to count the votes, on Wednesday, May 24th. They made their return to the General Court; and at the request of the latter the Governor issued his proclamation June 5th, 1821, announcing that nine of the fourteen Articles of Amendment had been adopted. The present copy belonged to Samuel Jackson Prescott (1773-1857) a Suffolk County magistrate, notary public and 1795 Harvard graduate. Prescott was presumably a delegate to the convention and the present copy of the proposed Amendments may have been issued for the use of convention members. Some fold separations, some wear and loss at intersection of fold joints, affecting some text, especially on first page, else very good.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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