Description

    Signer of the Constitution Jonathan Dayton's Copy of the First Edition of the "Federalist Papers," in a Contemporary Binding

    [Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay]. The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. In Two Volumes. Vol. I.[II.]. New-York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. M'Lean, 1788.

    First collected edition of the "Federalist Papers" -- "the most famous and influential American political work" (Howes). One of 500 copies printed. Two volumes bound in one. Twelvemo in sixes (6.4375 x 3.875 inches; 163 x 99 mm.). vi, 227, [1, blank]; vi, 384 pages. Bound without the initial blank leaf in each volume. In the last two gatherings of Volume II, watermarks of Delaware's first paper mill, Joshua Gilpin & Company, are visible: the top of a fleur-de-lis on leaves Hh4 and Ii6, and "BRANDYWIN[E]" on leaves Hh6 and Ii4.

    Contemporary sheep. Smooth spine divided into five panels with six decorative gilt rules and with burgundy morocco label decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt, board edges tooled in blind, edges stained yellow.

    Binding somewhat rubbed and worn, with a few scratches or scuff marks on the covers, and a few small areas where the sheep has been worn away; corners lightly bumped, with the board exposed on the lower front corner; a couple of small faint stains on the front cover; a larger, darker stain on the rear cover and dampstaining at the lower edge; spine with a few vertical cracks; small portion of the head of the spine worn away, including the uppermost gilt rule, with the headband exposed; tiny piece chipped from lettering label; joints tender and just starting; hinges cracked, but holding; two small dampstains on the top edge and a larger semi-circular white adhesion on the lower edge; endpapers lightly foxed and browned at the edges from the turn-in glue.

    Text slightly browned and lightly foxed, as usual; some occasional minor marginal soiling. A few corners creased; several leaves lightly creased either horizontally or diagonally before printing, sometimes affecting a few letters, but with no loss: A2 (pages 3/4), E2 (pages 51/52), E5 (pages 57/58), I2 (pages 99/100), K2 (pages 111/112), M5 (pages 141/142), O5 (pages 165/166), and T1-T6 (pages 217-[228]) in Volume I; I2 (pages 99/100), I5 (pages 105/106), T2 (pages 219/220), U2 (pages 231/232), X5 (pages 249/250), Z2 (pages 267/268), and Ff2 (pages 339/340) in Volume II.

    There are a few printing flaws in Volume II: several letters in six lines on page 174 are faintly printed; a few letters in two lines on page 91, three letters in one word on page 201, and three letters in one word on page 266 did not print; and page 311 is unevenly printed.

    In Volume I, the lower corner of the title and the two following leaves are creased; small piece torn from the outer blank margin of A3 (pages 5/6); one-and-one-half inch split (paper flaw) in the text of A6 (pages 11/12), affecting three words in one line on the recto and four words on the verso; tiny crease and tear to the upper corner of B2 (pages 15/16); the lower blank corner of D1 (pages 37/38) is torn away; one-inch tear to the outer blank margin of E3 (pages 53/54), entering the text and just touching a couple of letters on the verso; tiny adhesion to the lower blank margin of page 76; tiny crease to L2 (pages 123/124), affecting one letter on the recto and four letters on the verso; tiny hole in P3 (pages (173/174), just touching one letter on the recto; one-inch tear to the lower blank margin of P4 (pages 175/176), affecting one letter in the footnote on the recto; three-inch horizontal tear to Q2 (pages 183/184), affecting a couple of letters on the recto, with an early repair in the outer margin.

    Volume II with a small adhesion to the lower blank margin of the title-page; tiny hole in the outer blank margin of Aa1 (pages 277/278) and the upper blank margin of Cc3 (pages 305/306) and Hh3 (pages 365/366); the paper is very thin on Gg3 (pages 355/356), with a tiny hole affecting a couple of letters. There are marginal pencil markings on pages 72, 75, 194, and 195 in Volume I and pages 74, 78, and 236 in Volume II. Overall, this is an excellent copy, with an extremely important association.

    This copy of The Federalist originally belonged to Jonathan Dayton (October 16, 1760-October 9, 1824), Revolutionary War officer and, at age twenty-six, the youngest person to sign the United States Constitution. With a previous owner's ink inscription on the front free endpaper: "Wm. W. Coriell / 1824 / b. Jno Dayton." An ink signature, presumably that of Jonathan Dayton, has been clipped from the head of the title in each volume (approximately three-eights inch clipped from the title in Volume I, and between three-fourths inch and one inch in Volume II, resulting in the loss of the word "The" in the title), with the tips of the descenders still visible.

    According to Bernstein (page 237), "it is now agreed that Hamilton wrote Nos. 1, 6-9, 11-13, 15-17, 21-36, 59-61, and 65-86; that Madison wrote Nos. 10, 14, 18-20 (with reference to some material provided by Hamilton), 37-58, 62, and 63; and that Jay wrote Nos. 2-5 and 64." This copy has the initial of the author written in ink in Jonathan Dayton's neat hand on the following pages: "J" for "John Jay" on pages 11, 16, and 21 in Volume I, and page 201 in Volume II (for Nos. 3-5, and 64); "M" for "James Madison" on pages 52, 79, 102, 107, 114, and 126 in Volume I, and pages [1], 10, 20, 28, 37, 48, 57, 68, 77, 84, 92, 101, 107, 112, 116, 122, 128, 135, 141, 147, 153, 160, 184, and 192 in Volume II (for Nos. 10, 14, 17-19, and 21, 37-58, 62 and 63); and "H" for "Alexander Hamilton" on pages 166, 172, and 178 in Volume II (for Nos. 59-61). The ink initial "H" on page 178 in Volume II is smudged, with an ink splotch.

    "These eighty-five essays on the Constitution, almost entirely written by Hamilton and Madison (probably only five were by Jay) and published in the New York newspapers under the name of 'Publius,' were a step in Hamilton's campaign to win over a hostile majority in New York for a ratification of the Constitution. To the people of the time the collected essays were little more than a huge Federalist pamphlet. A generation passed before it was recognized that these essays by the principal author of the Constitution and its brilliant advocate were the most authoritative interpretation of the Constitution as drafted by the Convention of 1787. As a commentary and exposition on the Constitution the influence of the Federalist has been profound" (Grolier, 100 American).

    "When Alexander Hamilton invited his fellow New Yorker John Jay and James Madison, a Virginian, to join him in writing the series of essays published as The Federalist, it was to meet the immediate need of convincing the reluctant New York State electorate of the necessity of ratifying the newly proposed Constitution of the United States. The eighty-five essays, under the pseudonym 'Publius', were designed as political propaganda, not as a treatise of political philosophy. In spite of this The Federalist survives as one of the new nation's most important contributions to the theory of government...The first number of The Federalist appeared on 27 October 1787 in The Independent Journal, or The General Advertiser and newspaper publication continued in this and three other papers, The New York Packet, The Daily Advertiser, and The New York Journal and Daily Patriotic Register, through number 77, 2 April 1788. The first thirty-six essays were published in book form on 22 March 1788 by J. and A. McLean of New York and a second volume containing essays 37-85 followed on 28 May. Thus numbers 78-85 were published in book form before they appeared in the popular press" (Printing and the Mind of Man).

    Volume II contains the complete text of the Constitution, headed "Articles of the New Constitution; as agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787," and the resolutions of the Constitutional Convention (pages [367]-384).

    The original owner of this copy, Jonathan Dayton, was born in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), New Jersey, the son of Elias Dayton (1737-1807), a wealthy merchant and Revolutionary War General. After graduating from the Academy at Elizabethtown, run by Tapping Reeve and Francis Barber (and which Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr had also attended), Dayton attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).

    He left the College of New Jersey in 1775 to fight in the Revolution (though he would receive an honorary degree in 1776). Serving both under his father, General Elias Dayton, in the Second New Jersey Regiment and then in the Third New Jersey Regiment, and under the Marquis de Lafayette, Dayton achieved the rank of captain at the age of nineteen.

    After the war Dayton returned home, studied law, and established a law practice. When his father declined to be a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, Jonathan Dayton took his place, representing New Jersey. At age twenty-six, he was the youngest delegate, and he became the youngest person to sign the Constitution on September 17, 1787. Dayton served in the United States House of Representatives from 1791 to 1799, as Speaker of the House of Representatives from December 7, 1795 to March 3, 1799, and for one term as United States Senator (1799-1805).

    Dayton was a close acquaintance of Aaron Burr, and after supplying Burr with funds, was linked to Burr's alleged western conspiracy. When Burr was charged with treason in 1807, Dayton and five others were indicted on the same charge. After Burr's acquittal on grounds that there was no proof of an overt act of treason, Dayton's case was dismissed. His political career never recovered from the scandal, although in 1814-1815, Dayton served two terms in the New Jersey Assembly.

    In 1795, Dayton purchased Boxwood Hall as his home in Elizabethtown, and resided there until his death. In 1824, Dayton hosted the Marquis de Lafayette at Boxwood, during his tour of the United States. One week after Lafayette left, Dayton died.

    Dayton had invested heavily in land speculation in the Ohio region, and because he owned 250,000 acres of land between the Great Miami and Little Miami Rivers, in the vicinity of what is now Dayton, Ohio, the city, settled in 1796, was named after him.

    Jonathan Dayton's name appears on page 381 of Volume II as one of the witnesses who signed the Constitution.

    Church 1230. Evans 21127. Ford, Bibliography of the Constitution, 43. Ford, Bibliotheca Hamiltoniana, 17. Grolier, 100 American, 19. Grolier, 100 English, 55. Howes H114. Printing and the Mind of Man 234. Sabin 23979. Streeter 1049. See also Richard B. Bernstein, Are We to be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution (Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1987), pp. 230-242.


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    October, 2010
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