Philadelphia: Eleazer Oswald, 1787. All 1787: February 14 and 17; July 18 and 26; August 22; November 3, 14, and 16. All folio, printed in four columns per page. Disbound, with stitch-holes along left edge. Minor wear, several mended closed tears, inner blank margins reinforced. Text clean and Very Good.
Each issue consists of four pages: the first and last contain advertisements and public notices; the two inner pages print international and domestic news, often of a polemical nature. James Bowdoin, smarting from recent setbacks in his taxation plan and attempts to create a private militia, has a column denouncing the "insurgents" [February 17]. He writes again in the July 18 edition on the far less controversial subject of advantageous ways to grow corn, as learned from the British.
The Gazetteer evidences a progressive bent, calling for free public education (July 18), a type of early legal aid for the poor, and donations to alleviate the misery of public prisons (August 22). The paper prints a number of articles, primarily opposing Ratification of the Constitution. Some writers object to Ratification without sufficient study of the document (November 3 and 14). Contributor Timothy Meanwell is distressed that the Constitution does not abolish slavery and does not prohibit the slave trade for a further 21 years (November 3). The writer known as "Plain Truth" claims that someone has illegitimately used his moniker in the October 30 edition, and asks for help in identifying the "thief."
One "Cincinnatus" objects that the Constitution does not contain a Bill of Rights, noting that "some material parts of it are so constructed-- that a monstrous aristocracy springing from it, must necessarily swallow up the democratic rights of the union, and sacrifice the liberties of the people to the power and domination of a few." He proceeds to zero in directly on the freedom of expression and the press. The Constitution's proponents argued that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary, because the proposed Constitution created a government of strictly limited powers; the Framers had not granted the new government any such power to restrict freedom of speech or religion, or to interfere with the right of trial or any other valued freedoms. However, objections to the absence of a Bill of Rights were so widespread that James Madison and the Constitution's other proponents promised to adopt a Bill as their first order of business. Item #37219