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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9


This foot note contained in document ADMS-06-09-02-0103
2. This was The Report of a Constitution or Form of Government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts , Boston, 1779 (vol. 8:236–261), several copies of which JA distributed to European officials and correspondents. The missing pages noted by Digges make it likely that the first British printings of a portion of the constitution in the London Courant and the Courier de l'Europe of 18 April were derived from his copy. The pages missing from Digges' copy, 17 to 24, contained most of Chap. II, Sect. I, Art. III dealing with the General Court; all of Chap. II, Sect. II, describing the Senate; and all of Chap. II, Sect. III, Art. I and part of Art. II dealing with the House of Representatives. The portion of the constitution printed in the London Courant contained James Bowdoin's prefatory letter transmitting the Report to the constitutional convention, the Preamble, and Chap. I, the Declaration of Rights. In the Report, which is paginated from the titlepage, the Declaration of Rights ends on page 15, with the initial portions of Chap. II occupying the remainder of the page and all of the following page. In the London Courant the Declaration of Rights ends with the note: “We are in hopes in a short time to lay before our readers the whole frame of the government of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, of which the foregoing is not more than a quarter part.” It was not until early June that the missing portion of the Report was received and was printed in the London Courant of 6, 7, and 8 June; and the Courier de l'Europe of 9, 13, and 16 June. In the London Courant the text was preceded by the statement that “we have, since that time [18 April], had the good fortune to obtain a complete copy of that report.” The delay forced John Almon to use the portion printed in the London Courant of 18 April in the first volume of The Remembrancer for 1780 (p. 377–381). The remainder of the constitution appeared in the second volume of The Remembrancer for 1780, but there it was taken from the text of the constitution as ratified, not the committee report (p. 202–222).