Jun 21, 2016 - Sale 2420

Sale 2420 - Lot 244

Price Realized: $ 812
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(PENNSYLVANIA.) Autographs of the Delegates to the Pennsylvania Convention to Revise the Constitution. 22 manuscript pages plus 4 extraneous engravings. 4to, contemporary gilt pictorial calf, minor wear, rebacked; minor foxing, few names marked in pencil "dead"; 1907 inscriptions by compiler's grandson on flyleaf and final blank. [Philadelphia], 1837

Additional Details

The 1837 Pennsylvania Constitution was infamous for introducing a racial qualification for voting, by adding the simple word "white" before "freemen" in Article III. This had the effect of disenfranchising the large and important free African-American community based in Philadelphia, which had enjoyed voting rights going back to independence. Despite protests from the African-Americans and their supporters, the constitution was approved by the state's voters by a narrow margin, 113,971 to 112,759. The black community remained disenfranchised until 1870.
This volume was compiled by one of the delegates, E.M. Sturdevant of Luzerne County. Each district is spelled out in a formal hand, with the signatures of the corresponding delegates below--more than 130 signatures in total. Probably the best-known of the delegates today is Thaddeus Stevens. His refusal to sign this Pennsylvania constitution was one of his first public steps toward becoming one of America's leading slavery opponents. He soon became active in the Underground Railroad, and during the Civil War helped push Lincoln toward the Emancipation Proclamation.
with--Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to Propose Amendments to the Constitution, Volume IX. The addition of the offending word to Article III is discussed at length on pages 296-393, showing which delegates spoke out for and against the amendment. Harrisburg, PA, 1838.