Last Look

When the Constitution went public

In the Beinecke, a first edition of America’s user’s manual.

Dante Haughton

Dante Haughton

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On the afternoon of September 17, 1787, publishers John Dunlap and David Claypoole received the text of the US Constitution. By September 18, they had printed it in a pamphlet for the Confederation Congress. On September 19 they released the very first public printing, in their newspaper, the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser.

This original copy, now in the Beinecke, was donated in 1846 by Yale librarian E. C. Herrick. The book was bound in the 1800s; it contains every issue of the 1787 Packet. But the rare September 19 printing—only 25 are known to exist—is the one that makes it invaluable.

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