Original Printings of the Constitution

After a grueling four months, the delegates to the Federal Convention celebrated the completion of their arduous work. They ordered a large parchment Constitution to be engrossed by Jacob Shallus which the delegates signed on Monday the 17th of September. The delegates ordered their official printers, Dunlap and Claypoole the printers of the weekly Pennsylvania Packet, to print 500 copies of the proposed Constitution with the names of the signers, two resolutions, and a cover letter signed by the Convention’s president George Washington addressed to the president of Congress. (Evans 20818) By the morning of the 18th, this official printing was available. Each delegate received several copies. Below is a list of the locations of the known surviving copies of the original printing done by Dunlap and Claypoole.

“Printing the Constitution: The Convention and Newspaper Imprints, August-November 1787” by Leonard Rapport is an authoritative source on the history of the printing of the Constitution and subsequent reprinting throughout the states.

  • Delaware Hall of Records
    Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Bureau of Archives and Records, Dover, DE 19901
  • New Jersey State Archives
    225 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608
  • Library of Congress
    Manuscript Division (Andrew Jackson Donelson Papers, Ac. 14,984-Edmund Pendleton copy)
  • Independence National Historical Park
    143 S. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (George Washington copy)
  • American Philosophical Society Library
    105 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Benjamin Franklin copy inscribed to the Rev. Mr. Lathrop, call no. 342.73/Un 3c.d)
  • Public Records Office, London, England
    Foreign Office, Class 4, America, Vol. 5 (A copy enclosed in Phineas Bond to the Marquis of Carmarthen, Philadelphia, 20 September 1787)
  • Library of Congress
    Manuscript Division (James Madison Papers, or the blue volume on the Constitutional Convention, 1787, Ac. 8232)
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania
    Manuscript Department, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (On display in 1971)
  • Howard Goldman
    Purchased copy from Sotheby’s sale, 16 April 1988
  • Alexander Van Sinderen
    On loan to the Charles Tanenbaum Exhibit “To Frame a Union,” Stanford University Libraries, 11 October 1987 through 6 January 1988
  • Gilder Lerhman Collection
    New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024 (only pages 1-4, Benjamin Franklin copy inscribed to Jonathan Williams, Sr., Esq.)
  • The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, CA 91108
  • Schiede Library
    Princeton University, One Washington Rd., Princeton, NJ 08544