The Center for the Study of the American Constitution has created a collection of eight letterpress broadsides each containing an inspirational quotation and signature of one of the Founders. Suitable for framing, these attractive broadsides measure 9 x 12 inches, are printed on high quality cotton paper with two colors of ink, and have a hand-torn deckled bottom edge. With quotations from George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Franklin, these broadsides can be purchased either individually or as a set.
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The broadsides are available below for your perusal.
The quotation in this broadside is from a letter Abigail Adams wrote in the spring of 1776 to her husband John, who was then serving in the Second Continental Congress. Abigail not only advocated that Congress declare American independence from Great Britain but that it enact laws that would protect basic human and judicial rights for women. The illustration is taken from a gold coin commemorating this early statement of freedom.
The quotation in this broadside is taken from the introductory essay of The Federalist published in New York City newspapers on 27 October 1787 in which Hamilton suggests that the debate over the ratification of the Constitution would determine whether human beings could govern themselves through reason and choice or must be forever controlled by accident or force. The illustration is the pediment of the first Bank of the United States.
Renowned for his scientific studies with electricity and inventions (including the bifocals illustrated here), Benjamin Franklin also gained prominence from his witty and insightful maxims, many of which appeared in his Poor Richard’s Almanac published annually from 1733 to 1758. In an attempt to live a life of “moral Perfection,” Franklin in 1728 composed a list of thirteen virtues. In old age, Franklin felt that his list made him “a better and a Happier Man than I otherwise should have been.” He hoped that others would follow the example and “reap the Benefit.”
The quotation is taken from Commander-in-chief George Washington’s last circular letter to the states in June 1783, in which the General warns about America’s upcoming period of political probation and offers advice as to how America can become great. The illustration is taken from the back rest of Washington’s chair at the Constitutional Convention that Benjamin Franklin described as a rising rather than a setting sun.
The quotation in this broadside is taken from The Federalist #51 in which Madison asserts that governments need not only authority over “the people” but must also be obliged to control itself. A bill of rights alone was insufficient to limit government authority. Given the fact that men were not angels and that angels would not rule on earth, governments needed “auxiliary precautions” to prevent despotism. The illustration is the Pennsylvania statehouse (later called Independence Hall) where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were drafted.
The quotation in this broadside is taken from a letter written by John Adams to his wife Abigail in 1780 in which Adams says that it was his duty to study politics and war so that his sons could study mathematics and science so that his sons’ children could study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain. The illustration is the Great Seal of the United States that depicts an eagle clutching arrows and olive branches—the symbols of war and peace.
The quotation in the Jefferson broadside is taken from the Declaration of Independence and is perhaps the single greatest sentence ever written in the English language. It serves as the first of five introductory sentences (202 words) that encapsulates the American philosophy of government. The illustration is the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia.
The first quotation beginning “These are the times that try men’s souls,” is taken from the beginning of “The American Crisis” #1 written by Thomas Paine at the behest of General George Washington and published in Philadelphia newspapers in mid-December 1776 and read to Washington’s troops on the banks of the Delaware before the Americans captured the Hessian garrison at Trenton. The second quotation, published on 18 April 1783, the eighth anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord, announces that the times that tried men’s souls is now over.
Set of all 8 Broadsides.