Presented by Thomson Reuters
On display April 3 - July 4, 2012
A new exhibit featuring a rare, early published version of the U.S. Constitution and an even more rare draft of the Bill of Rights, along with the original editions of the two state of Minnesota Constitutions, will be on display at the Minnesota History Center.
United States Constitution and Bill of Rights on loan from the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation
More information on school groups
More information on adult groups
About the Constitution
From May to September the Constitutional Convention met in closed sessions in Philadelphia to develop a new constitution for the fledgling republic. On Sept. 17, 1787, the convention members signed the final draft of the Constitution and sent it to the printing house of Dunlap & Claypoole. Working through the night, the printers created the first official printing of the six-page document, which included a letter from George Washington, president of the Constitutional Convention, urging the states to ratify the new Constitution. Although the vote was close in some states, the Constitution was eventually ratified and the new federal government came into existence in 1789. The Constitution established the U.S. government as it exists today. A Dunlap & Claypoole printed Constitution dated Sept. 17, 1787 will be on display.
About the Bill of Rights
One of the first tasks of the new Federal Congress was to propose a Bill of Rights or specific guarantees of liberties for American citizens. James Madison, then a U.S. Representative from Virginia, introduced the first set of amendments in the House. After heavy debate members of the House approved a final version, known as a “slip bill” or a working document, with 17 amendments on Aug. 24, 1789. Further debate in Congress reduced the amendments to 12. Ten of those amendments – the Bill of Rights – were ratified by the states and adopted, effective Dec. 15, 1791. Printed in limited numbers by Thomas Greenleaf in an unbound pamphlet and for the exclusive use of Congress, the House “slip bill” dated Aug. 24, 1789, is extremely rare. It is this draft Bill of Rights that will be on display.
About Minnesota's Constitutions
In order to become a state, Minnesota needed to draft a constitution. In 1857, territorial residents elected delegates to a constitutional convention. But intense rivalry between Democratic and Republican factions forced the convention to create a conference committee (a super committee by today’s standards) to propose language that would be acceptable to both parties. While the delegates approved the committee’s proposed language, they refused to sign a single document that contained the signatures of the other faction's members. On Aug. 29, 1857, 53 Republican members signed one document and 51 Democratic members signed another document. Although the two documents were intended to be identical, a detailed comparison shows more than 300 punctuation, grammatical and wording differences. No substantive differences in meaning or interpretation are present. Learn more about Minnesota's Constitutions.