Explore Rare Constitutional Documents Online
As a bonus for our website users, the National Constitution Center’s American Treasures Interactive (at https://constitutioncenter.org/american-treasures) lets you browse four rare draft copies of the Constitution and its first printed final version.
These documents are part of our new exhibit, American Treasures: Documenting the Nation’s Founding, which explores the drafting of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, highlighting the key proposals and significant compromises that influenced the early drafts and shaped the document’s final text.
Exhibit visitors are introduced to the crucial figures who played a role in shaping the Constitution – from James Madison to James Wilson, America’s most important champion of popular sovereignty, or government by “We the People,” and Gouverneur Morris, often credited as the primary writer of the Constitution’s final text.
The exhibit includes some of the most significant constitutional treasures in American history, tracing the origin of the new form of government created by the Framers here in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787.
From the vast collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, these treasures include:
- James Wilson’s Report of the Convention’s Resolutions, the first draft of what would become the Constitution
- James Wilson’s Manuscript of the Committee of Detail Report, a priceless document written by Wilson himself while serving on the committee that created the next iteration of the Constitution’s text
- a Proof Copy of the Committee of Detail Report, where committee-member Edmund Randolph made 11 corrections before copies were printed for all of the delegates
- the Committee of Style Report, with handwritten notes by Delawarean Jacob Broom
- and the Official Printing of the Constitution from September 17, 1787
You can examine these five documents and learn about important facts and revisions at our Interactive presentation at https://constitutioncenter.org/treasures.
And if you are interested in seeing the exhibit in person, click on the Visit link on that page or go to https://constitutioncenter.org/experience/exhibitions/feature-exhibitions.
American Treasures: Documenting the Nation’s Founding was created in partnership with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.