University of Wisconsin–Madison

The First Printing of the Constitution Sponsored by the Constitutional Convention

The Philadelphia Convention ended its substantive work on Saturday the 15th of September 1787. The engrossed Constitution was signed on Monday the 17th. Later that day the delegates voted to adjourn. It did not take long for Dunlap and Claypoole to print 500 copies of the report of the Convention, including the proposed Constitution. By the morning of the 18th, this “official” six page version was the first broadside printing of the document. The Constitution ran for four pages. The two additional sheets included resolutions of the Convention as well as a letter from Convention President George Washington to the President of the Confederation Congress informing him of the Convention’s efforts that summer. Each delegate received several broadsides and they in turn distributed them to dignitaries and friends. A copy that originally belonged to James Madison is on display at The Library of Congress website. We have listed the locations of the known surviving copies of this original printing.

  • Delaware Hall of Records
    Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Bureau of Archives and Records, Dover, DE 19901
  • New Jersey State Library
    Archives and History Bureau, 185 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08625
  • Library of Congress
    Manuscript Division (Andrew Jackson Donelson Papers, Ac. 14,984-Edmund Pendleton copy)
  • Independence National Historical Park
    311-313 Walnut 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.)