The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America. 1781 (First Edition)

The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America; the Declaration of Independence; the Articles of Confederation between The Said States; the Treaties between his most Christian Majesty and the United States of America. Published by order of Congress. 1781 (First Edition)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Francis Bailey, Printer
black and white text
Unrestored original condition
Book Details: manuscript signature, "John Whiting" cursive script, in period ink on title page; pages numbered 1-226. page 208 misprinted as "108"; two blank front and back end papers. Book Condition: as found good original condition, text complete, printing crisp on evenly toned paper with occasional foxing, original calf leather binding with marble patterned leather covers and spine scuffed in places, binding tight, original green leather label on spine is printed "Constitutions" in gold within a gold frame and five gold bands on spine, one worn. Paper loss 1" of lower right corner of first free endpaper and paper loss of 2" strip along bottom edge of inner rear free end paper. Both pasted down endpapers are toned around the inside perimeter, in the profile of the leather edges folded underneath the pastedowns. Wear to leather at each end of spine, corners worn, leather book covers firmly attached but showing some wear along lower section of spine. A watermark may be present on certain pages of text.
6.875 × 4.375 × 0.75 inches
Sale Status: 

This  book is the rare 1781 first edition of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America that by Order of Congress dated December 29, 1780 1./ was printed in a limited edition of 200 by Francis Bailey 2./ of Philadelphia as government printer.3./ The book format is new to 18th c. American publishing 4./ this being the first use of a compendium format. The subject matter itself is exceptional, the first publication in book form of the founding documents of the United States of America. The Order to publish this book bespeaks the Continental Congress' understanding of the necessity to publish and distribute to the public at the government's expense in a permanent format America's new laws and founding principles. The then novel principle that political sovereignty originates with the people finds expression throughout. This 1781 compendium of America's founding legal documents soon became a guide book for the drafters of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. 5./ In the discussion below we shall cite the title as the "Constitutions of the several States", a shorthand used in the Congressional Record of the Continental Congress between 1781 and 1784 in its member comments about the book. 6./

This "small volume and pretty neat" 7./ that fits conveniently in a pocket contains the original, thirteen ratified or otherwise adopted charters and state constitutions of the thirteen united  States of America. 8./ The project to assemble these founding documents did not go smoothly. 9./ The thirteen state constitutions and charter "equivalents" are bound in with the freshly enacted Continental Congress's Articles of Confederation ratified  March 1, 1781 10./  together with the The Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, the document from which these thirteen American states' models of self-rule emanate and which itself represented  a new and unique political paradigm.  This compendium was fully intended to be of practical value to elected officials, citizens and even in international trade. The Continental Congress  notably also ordered that this volume include the Treaties between his Most Christian Majesty and the United States of America, Feb. 6, 1778,  the peace and cooperation agreements with Louis XV, King of France and Navarre whose financial and military support were essential for America's ultimate Revolutionary War victory led by General George Washington over Cornwallis at Yorktown in October 19, 1781. The compendium's new political documents established domestically and to the world America's political legitimacy. To satisfy European demand, the book was next published in eight 1783 European reprint editions 11./, in a 1785 American second edition of an unspecified number of copies12./ and in an American 1786 reprint edition of the first edition.11./

That the Constitutions of the several States  was actually in production as the Revolutionary War raged, and its outcome uncertain added urgency to the Continental Congress' task. Printer Francis Bailey delivered his invoice for the completed work to the Congressional Committee overseeing the publication of the book on May 4, 1781 and it ordered he be paid "one hundred and sixty dollars specie" 13./.  By May 6, 1781 the books were available to be distributed by the Committee to Congress' delegates, by a quota system of some sort,14./ done in hand to those delegates present in Philadelphia. James Madison was not pleased by the results15./. The order of the documents in the published book did not conform to the 1780 Order of Congress. 16./

Delegates distributed the book to their constituents, who included state officials,14.,17./  American diplomats18./, Continental Army officers and private individuals.17/ The Congressional Record has several examples of copies of this book being requested of and sent by delegates to officers in the Continental Army.19./ The methods of formal and informal distribution of this widely anticipated book are further discussed below. How many of these 200 books made it down the ranks of Continental Army officers from 1781 to 1783 during the Revolutionary War, or thereafter we can only know by taking a tally of known signed copies of the book.

Our book on offer is one such remarkable example, a recent discovery,  signed "John Whiting" in manuscript on the book's title page. This book was owned by John Whiting (1760-1810), of Lancaster, Massachusetts, an American Revolutionary War Minuteman, patriot, Lieutenant and Adjutant of the Massachusetts Regiment, Continental Army, who served for the full duration of America's Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783.  John Whiting is also one of the 35 founding members of the Society of the Cincinnati. 20./

The historical record does not yet answer the question when John Whiting obtained his copy of the book - he signs his name without any military rank.  Yet Lieut. & Adj. Whiting served at Gen. George Washington's headquarters, and therefore was well situated to obtain his book through the formal distribution channels between the Continental Congress and Gen.Washington's headquarters and within the Army itself. Please see below.

John Whiting resumed civic life in the latter half of 1783 at home in Lancaster, Massachusetts where he chose a singular profession, as proprietor of his own bookstore and book bindery, which he announced open in 1794. 21./ He owned this book business until his death in 1810. The inventory of his bookstore as of 1810 22./ provides a rare window into the reading habits of early 19th century, rural Massachusetts citizens. He carried a large inventory with subjects that supported self education through lifelong reading. The records of his business as of 1810 reveal further his participation in a well developed wholesale book publishing  and book selling network from Boston to Worcester, Massachusetts, the center of Isaiah Thomas and Isaiah Thomas, Jr.'s book printing, publishing and bookselling empire. John Whiting extended this network further in his relationships with smaller, 18th c.  and early 19th c. Massachusetts rural printers. 23./

Interwoven with John Whiting's professional and personal life24./, are his many roles in Lancaster town government.25./ Some of these civic roles, such as serving on the School Committee and committee to establish a Latin School, evince his deep commitment to education and the necessity of educated citizens in the new democracy. In 1795, John Whiting served on the local committee formed to survey and map Lancaster, its first published map, as mandated by the Massachusetts Legislature.  Whiting served in the Massachusetts Militia at the rank of Brigadier-General. He also served Worcester County, appointed March 1, 1808 as Assistant Justice, Court of Session, Worcester County. 26/ Whiting was called back into service of his country on July 18, 1809, to Washington, D.C. at the rank of Lieut. Col. 4th Infantry, Adjutant and Inspector of the Army in the buildup of the U.S. Army to the War of 1812. Sadly, he died on September 3, 1810 in Washington, D.C. where he was buried with military honors.27./  There is one posthumously painted portrait of John Whiting perhaps in his 1809 U.S. Army military uniform, a portrait miniature painted by his son in law and in the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. 27.1/ There are two photographs of what might be a life portrait, possibly drawn by Whiting's son and portrait artist Fabius Whiting c. 1809 that also show John Whiting in what might be his 1809 U.S. Army military uniform and these are in the collection of the Thayer Memorial Library of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 27.2/ Both portraits are accompanied by notes that refer to John Whiting's 1809 rank and second U.S. military service.

The owner of this book appears to have read the text throughout. Certain pages have almost imperceptible turned corners, as markers perhaps of the reader's progress through the book. These might be John Whiting "fingerprint" on the book, a compendium of the American state constitutions and American founding documents for which he fought.  John Whiting's 1781 The Constitutions of the Independent States of America, rare in its time, and no less rare today, is a survivor of the American Revolutionary War and a legacy of the man who owned it.

I. The Book's Owner: John Whiting (1760-1810), Lieutenant and Adjutant, Massachusetts Regiment, Continental Army enlisted 1775 to 1783.

The presumed first owner of our book who signed his name " John Whiting" on the title page is John Whiting of rural Lancaster, Massachusetts, who marched on April 19, 1775 from Billerica28./ with his father, brother and fellow men of the Billerica Minute Company in the first battle of the American Revolutionary War between American Minutemen and the British Army, whom they routed from Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts into retreat to Boston. John Whiting enlisted  on April 23, 1775  at Cambridge, Massachusetts in the First Massachusetts Brigade for three years of service. 29., 30./ On June 23, 1775, the Massachusetts Brigade was absorbed into the Continental Army 31./ where Whiting ultimately served eight years, the full duration of the Revolutionary War .32./

John Whiting rose  quickly from private to sergeant, and in 1777 to the rank of Lieutenant and Quarter Master, a remarkable achievement.  In 1778, at age 18 Whiting received a commission and was assigned to serve at General George Washington's headquarters at Valley Forge where his record keeping duties begin.33./ In 1780, John Whiting was promoted to Adjutant of the Massachusetts 12th Regiment assigned to Gen. Washington's headquarters.34./ As Adjutant, John Whiting was responsible on behalf of his regiment for keeping orderly books in which he recorded Gen. Washington's Orders pertaining to the Continental Army, events at Washington's headquarters and headquarters administration.

How do we know that the John Whiting who signed the Constitutions of the several States is John Whiting [1760-1810) of Lancaster, Massachusetts? 35./ The answer is by visual comparison of the manuscript signature "John Whiting" on the title page of our rare book to Lieut. Adjutant John Whiting's signatures in script in his 1782 Orderly Book  (4/17-6/20/1782) dateline Newburg, Westpoint and Garrison, New York. This 1782 Orderly Book is in the collection of the Huntington Library and is available on line to read cover to cover from high resolution digital photographs. 36./

The 1782 Orderly Book is written in highly legible, cursive script. John Whiting writes his name in ink in the 1782 Orderly Book three times: on the cover page37./, on the next inside page to identify this book as his work 38./, and within the text 39./ to identify himself as #63 on the list of 109 subaltern officers in the Massachusetts line. The stylistic match of two of these "John Whiting" signatures and "John Whiting" as written in our book is exact. The 1782 Orderly Book cover ink signature is a slight variant. The signature matches illustrate a consistency and the style of how John Whiting wrote his name in 1782. Thus we confirm the identity of our book's owner as John Whiting of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Please see the two photographs of John Whiting's signature accompanying this discussion. The second of these photographs is from John Whiting's 1782 Orderly Book.38./

After reading John Whiting's 1782 Orderly Book it becomes apparent that John Whiting's military service, especially as Quarter Master and Adjutant was an education in itself. As Adjutant John Whiting was required to be officially apprised of and record for Army records General George Washington's Orders, the garrison rules and regulations, garrison operations, procedures to maintain the health of the troops through inoculations and quarantine of newly arrived troops to protect against small pox, military training, military discipline determined by the Continental Army military court hearings - mostly court martials-, garrison visits by Generals and dignitaries as well as reports of Orders of Congress sent to headquarters. He writes of the scarcity of uniforms and hats, making uniform insignia to show rank, and the "ill effects" of bad liquor.  In May, he records plans for the celebration of the one year anniversary of the  birth of the Dauphin of France that included fireworks ("feu de joie"), feasting and 13 toasts with an extra gill of rum, accompanied by a discharge of the artillery at each toast. The literary high point is the "Address of the Commander in Chief, the generals and other Officers of the American Army on the banks of the Hudson" to the King of France.  From 1775 to 1783, this 15 year old Minute Man thus became by age 22 accustomed to a disciplined community life, to relationships with citizens of other American states and the wider world, and first hand to the workings of Congress and the leadership of George Washington, his future President.

How and when might John Whiting have obtained his copy of the 1781 Constitutions of the several States?   One answer may be the formal, official channels of distribution described in the 1774-1789 Congressional Record, namely courtesy of his Massachusetts Congressional delegates 40./while Whiting was serving in the Continental Army. Obtaining a new copy of the book after 1783 this way was not possible. 40.1/ Another answer may be inferred from John Whiting's 1782 Orderly Book  that describes couriers arriving at headquarters with documents and other items, and visits by other generals and high ranking officers.41./  We know from the Congressional Record that copies of the 1781 edition were delivered between 1781 and 1783.  See Note. 7, above.

An impetus and opportunity for John Whiting to obtain his book might also have been the occasion of his May 13, 1783 final gathering at the Cantonment near Newburg among the thirty-five (35) Continental Army officers who had organized for the purpose of founding The Society of the Cincinnati.  On that day each officer, including Lieut. & Adj. Whiting signed the new society's Institution, its founding document. Next to these signatures the Institution reads "Done in the Cantonment, on Hudsons River, in the year 1783." 42./ Given John Whiting's long relationships within the Continental Army, and in particular within the officer corps, he might have availed himself of a book delivery courtesy of a fellow officer. General George Washington's advice to his officer corps was to read widely on many subjects. 43./ Delivery of books to Continental Army headquarters, including this sought after book, may therefore have been a priority.

This book, John Whiting's rare 1781 Constitutions of the several States is the legacy of a man who treasured books as a source of knowledge, personal enrichment and effective citizenship. Among the few non-military related possessions listed in his personal probate inventory was one silver watch, two pairs of spectacles and three books. 44./  Could one such book have been this rare volume?

II. John Whiting, his Book Store and 3,800 Books:

John Whiting owned and operated a book store in Lancaster, Massachusetts from 1794 to 1810 45./ located on the busy stage coach route from Boston to Worcester and further points west, both locations of which can be seen on an 1831 map of Lancaster.46./  His interest in books themselves and his love of reading provided his education, and his book store inventory likely reflects his own interests and tastes, some of which may have been formed during his eight years of military service among literate and educated fellow officers. As of 1810 Whiting's book store had in inventory several thousands of volumes 47./ and an eclectic array of titles in English and French (possibly German) that offer a window on the art of reading in early 19th c. America in a rural but thriving town close to Worcester, 40 miles or so outside of Boston, Massachusetts and within range of New Hampshire.  Some books in John Whiting's book store were published in Europe and others printed and published in America including those also locally printed for John Whiting by name.48./ The inventory included books for children and adults, for leisure reading and self education, for school use and practical applications.49./

He purchased books from a variety of sources, including major publishers in Massachusetts such as Isaiah Thomas, Thomas & Andrews and  Boston publisher Manning and Loring. 50./ Early 19th c. American book stores also relied on sales of other items, 51./ and John Whiting carried stationery and blank notebooks, some of which John Whiting supplied under contract to the Massachusetts Legislature for the state militia as noted in their records.

John Whiting's 1794 advertisement states that he carried books "on terms as good as those found in Boston" which implies an active knowledge of the wholesale and retail Boston book trade.52./ The advertisement itself is proof of the 18th c. emergence of individual book stores in Massachusetts, where newspaper advertisements and proximity to transportation in rural inland towns, such as stage coach were essential for obtaining inventory, selling at wholesale and selling to readers.  John Whiting's bookstore is a starting point for further research on this topic of rural imprints and rural book stores in 18th c. America, and in particular in rural Massachusetts.

John Whiting died in 1810. His 1811-1815 Probate Administration documents are a detailed set of research source documents on this topic. John Whiting's probate contains several kinds of documents for analysis: a list of creditors, mostly business related, a list and appraisal of personal property and a book store inventory and appraisal listing all items connected with his book store. The probate appraisers often assigned abbreviated book titles to the books listed and some books are listed as "in sheets" with the number of copies.  We are left to make educated guesses about the actual titles and editions. I have found no records about who might have purchased, inherited or otherwise obtained any of John Whiting's large estate, including his book store inventory of over 3,000 books.

Perhaps the most intriguing title on this inventory list is Washington Correspondence along with a Memory of Washington. For civic education, John Whiting's book store carried the Voter's Guide (for Massachusetts voters, including the state Constitution),  the  Natural and Civil History of Vermont, published with a map, (possibly by Isaiah Thomas and David Carlisle, Walpole, New Hampshire, 1794 first edition). "Three maps" but no titles are listed and an Elements of Geography. There are 49 copies of Constitutions (presumably contemporary editions), and 59 copies of Constitutions & Address possibly the school primer that contained George Washington's address to the people of the United States in 1796 on his resolution to retire. The inventory is  heavily weighted with history books, both current American history and Goldsmith's History of England , other European histories, military history, military biographies, a Memoirs of the Court of St. Petersburg. There is poetry, children's school books, Latin books (for Lancaster's Latin School perhaps) and children's story books. There are books about a variety of religions including Hinduism and Islam, Watts Psalms, Pilgrim's Progress and a small assortment on moral guidance.  There is a Dictionary of the Bible, and a Greek Testament, likely that published by Isaiah Thomas, and otherwise no Bibles. There are groundbreaking medical books, such as Morbid Anatomy and Parks Travels by surgeon Mungo Parks. In some cases, titles are of books that carried  John Whiting's own local imprints.

John Whiting is primarily described in 19th c. Lancaster town histories and elsewhere as a "book binder" or retailer 53./ Whiting's probate inventory does list tools and materials for book binding that included alphabets, type boxes, brass type, calf and morocco remnants and sheepskins for binding and 24 bundles of wood scabbard, a uniquely American binding technique.  Indeed bookbinding was performed. But Henry Nourse, the 19th c. historian and scholar who specialized in the history of Lancaster, Massachusetts and its residents, offers scant information about John Whiting and his book store, reporting only that John Whiting had a retailer's license from 1787 to 1793. This absence of contemporary commentary or 19th century recognition of the nature of his book business suggests that some bias influenced these authors to ignore Whiting's sophisticated book store offerings. Perhaps it was Whiting's politics.

As a late 18th c. rural Massachusetts book seller, John Whiting was an innovator, introducing to Lancaster ideas and goods from a wider world.54./ The books in his inventory were local, domestic and imported. John Whiting appears to have participated in the early network of printers and publishers, book dealers and book sellers. There is more to learn from research with original sources, such as ledgers and correspondence that could provide connections between John Whiting and his book store in Lancaster with others in this world of 18th c. and early 19th c. book publishing and reading. 55/ John Whiting (1760-1810) may not be a household name but he deserves to be.


The stature of this rare copy of the 1781 Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America, the first edition of America's founding documents published together is matched by the full arc of John Whiting's fifty year life, from age fifteen as a Minuteman at Concord and Lexington to age 50 as U.S. Army Lieut. Col. in his final service to his country at Washington, D.C. American patriot John Whiting's life encompasses the entire American Revolution, from the battles at Lexington to the Peace Treaty of 1783 at Paris memorializing the terms of America's peace with the King of Great Britain, the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, followed by George Washington becoming the first President of the United States. Together this 1781 first edition of the book which John Whiting may have read while serving at General Washington's headquarters and John Whiting's life story enrich our understanding of this formative time in America's political, military and book publishing history.  

The 1781 first American edition of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States, small in scale but immeasurable in its impact on late 18th century political thought, established in print what the American Revolution had established in fact: the presence of a new country founded on democratic principles and the rule of law. The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America ,1781, first American edition, expresses for the first time in one American book the legal framework of a uniquely American political philosophy that a citizen has certain constitutionally protected unalienable rights and that the rule of law and democracy go hand in hand. This book marks the beginning of the yet unfinished American Revolution.


I.   Footnotes about the Book: Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America, 1781

1./ Journals of the Continental Congress , Vol. XXI, p. 1201, n. 364, "Resolved December 29, 1780…" Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to collect and cause to be published 200 correct copies of the declaration of independence, the articles of confederation and perpetual union, the alliances between these United States and his Most Christian Majesty, with the constitutions or forms of government of the several states, to be bound together in boards."  The committee of three delegates formed to oversee production of the book were Mr. [Thomas] Bee, Mr. [John] Witherspoon, Mr. [Oliver] Wolcott. An initial page of the book carries the Order of Congress.

2./  The Royal Collection Trust curator's notes for its copy of the 1781 edition of Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America explain that Francis Bailey belonged to a family of printers and credit him with being one of the first printers to use  the English metal Caslon type, which these notes explain Benjamin Franklin brought back with him from London in 1760.

3./ Based on the frequency and number of 18th c. Orders of Congress to Francis Bailey to print key government documents, he was a designated government printer. Three years prior, in 1777, Francis Bailey was the government printer of the official, circulated edition of the Articles of Confederation that by necessity he was compelled to print at his shop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania due to the British occupation of Philadelphia. Journals of the Continental Congress.

4./ See "Golden Letters: James Wilson, the Declaration of Independence and the Sussex Declaration," Allen and Sneff, p.199 commenting on the 1781 edition of our book, "This launched a new tradition of producing compendia of fundamental laws of the land. All of these texts were utilitarian not ornamental; their purpose was simply dissemination of the law." These authors distinguish that purpose from the considerably later ornamental status of the Declaration of Independence. They quote Jefferson himself as holding the view that the basic state documents had not been adequately disseminated, and comment that even by 1791 three different compendia were published by printers eager for government printing business. "Most Americans did not have access to the text in their compendia and securing those texts would have been a matter of some difficulty." ibid. p. 203.

5./  The Massachusetts state Constitution, drafted by John Adams, offered both the model of a legitimizing political process, and the constitution's procedural and substantive elements. Massachusetts held a state constitutional convention attended by state wide elected delegates to adopt, "A Constitution, or Frame of Government, agreed upon by the Delegates of the People of Massachusetts-Bay, in Convention, begun and held at Cambridge, on the First of September, 1779, and continued by Adjournments, to the Second of March, 1780."

For an excellent discussion of these first constitutions of the original thirteen states of America, see Stanley F. Chyet's study "The Political Rights of the Jews in the United States: 1776-1840." Chyet provides close textual analysis of each state constitution or charter, in chronological order, analyzing the link between state establishment of religion and political liberty. He distinguishes between rights granted and later "necessary supportive legislation." Only New York's constitution of 1777 recognized the right of free religious practice and political liberty.  Virginia in its 1776 Constitution written by James Madison recognizes free religious practice, and in 1785 adopts Thomas Jefferson's Act for Religious Freedom which Chyet hails as the "most signal advance made by a state in the struggle for complete religious liberty during the eighteenth century." No constitution acknowledges rights of Native Americans. Slavery if named is not proscribed. A gaping silence denies a woman's right to vote: she might pray but not vote or hold public office.

6./ see also, Journals of the Continental Congress, Edited from the Original Records in the Library of Congress by  Gaillard Hunt, Chief, Div. of Manuscripts, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912.

7./ Jonathan Arnold to Welcome Arnold,  letter dated Feb. 11, 1783, Philadelphia: "Dear Sir, I have made enquiry respecting the Constitutions of the several States agreeable to your request and find - they can be had (every states Constitution being bound together) - in a small volume and pretty neat, the price will be 10s each Pennsylva. Currency per doz....About 100 Copies of the Edition, only remain unsold..." On March 20, Jonathan Arnold reminds Welcome Arnold to answer, "for as the Edition is nearly all sold-it may be a disappointment."

8./ Five states submitted a charter or "form of government": New Hampshire adopted "In Congress, at Exeter, Jan. 5, 1776"; Rhode Island, a "Charter" with the advice "[Since the commencement of hostilities by Great Britain, the State of Rhode-Island and Providence plantations has not assumed a form of government different from that contained in the foregoing charter...."; Connecticut an "Account of the Constitution" supplemented by contemporary legislative acts; Delaware, "A Declaration of Rights and Fundamental Rules, formerly filed The Government of the Counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, upon Delaware, September 26, 1776". 

Eight states submitted a state constitution: Massachusetts, A Constitution or Frame of Government, 1779; New Jersey, in Provincial Congress, July 2, 1776,  Constitution of New Jersey; New York, The Constitution of the State of New York. Established by the Convention authorized and empowered for that purpose, April 20,1777; Pennsylvania, The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1776; Maryland, A Declaration of Rights, and the Constitution and Form of Government, 1776; Virginia, The Constitution or Form of Government, 1776; North Carolina, The Constitution or Form of Government, 1776; South Carolina, An Act for Establishing the Constitution of the State of South-Carolina, March 18, 1778; Georgia, The Constitution of the State of Georgia, February 5, 1777.

9./ The project did not succeed without some guidance to an unresponsive and unprepared state. Connecticut's Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.,having apparently suggested that Connecticut would submit its Colonial Charter granted by England's King Charles the 2d to Connecticut in 1662, was urged by Connecticut's Representative Oliver Wolcott in his letter from Philadelphia dated January 9, 1781, to promptly send along "A Correct Account...of the governing principles of that Charter and the fundamental laws of the State relative thereto, ... what is necessary, -Unless...We derive its Origin from an earlier Period than the Charter, which I suppose May be done if it shall be tho't best, and in that View consider the Charter only as a Confirmation of that Constitution which was derived from the Voluntary Convention of the Ancient Settlers of the former Colony. As the Publication of the Constitution of the State of Connecticut under this order of Congress, ought to be quite Correct and will be considered as Authentick and perhaps will be required to be attested as such..." and "...I think it therefore my Duty to Request that your Excellency, would please transmit An Account of the Constitution of our State for the Publication intended...And that most of the Constitutions of the States are now ready for Publication and there therefore unless the Acco. of the Constitution of Connecticut is soon had, it will Occasion a Delay." Letters of Delegates to Congress: Vol. 16 September 1, 1780-February 28, 1781.  Wolcott next prepares the Governor for the President of Congress' imminent letter to Connecticut  to “revise and amend their late Law."

10./ Maryland was the last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation on March 1, 1781. On March 2, 1781 the Continental Congress officially became the Confederation Congress. Following ratification in 1789 of the U.S. Constitution, the Confederation Congress became the Federal Government. See, National Archives, Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention | National Archives

11./ The American first edition was reprinted privately in 1783 in four London "reprint" editions, a Glasgow, Scotland reprint edition and a Dublin, Ireland reprint edition with some modifications, including a map in one London edition, and a portrait of George Washington in another, introductions and advertisements.  In 1783 two French language imprints were published, only one of which is in the Library of Congress and here counted as one, a logical edition given that France was America's primary ally in the Revolutionary War. There is also an American 1786 New York edition, a reprint of the First Edition, published at the Confederation Congress Printing Office by E. Oswald. See Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. XXI, July 23-Dec.31, 1781, note 372, Bibliographical Notes and Notes 364.-372.

12./ This 1785 second, updated American edition of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America "originally by Order of Congress"  printed by Norman and Bowen in Boston,  now includes  America's ratified Treaty with the United States of the Netherlands. See this edition on offer by Original Antique Maps by Carol J. Spack at

13./ May 4, 1781, the "...Committee appointed to collect and cause to be published two hundred copies of the Declaration of Independence, the articles of Confederation and perpetual union, etc., reported that they have performed that business and that there is due to Francis Bailey for printing and binding the said two hundred copies the sum of sixty pound, equal to one hundred and sixty dollars specie: Ordered, That it be referred to the Board of Treasury." See, Journals of the Continental Congress, Edited from the Original Records in the Library of Congress by  Gaillard Hunt.

14./ John Witherspoon to New Jersey Gov. Livingston, May 16, 1781 writes

"A Collection of the Constitutions of the several States was some Time since published by order of Congress, and I received 10 Copies as the Quota of New Jersey, which I intended to have forwarded by this Time. But some Difficulty having been started by the Committee who superintended the Publication, I do not know whether I shall not be called upon to return them. I must therefore wait at least for Explanation, before I can venture them forward..." cited as Livingston Papers, NN. [No record was found of an official distribution list. This formality was to be adopted only later by the U.S. Congress.]

15./ On May 5,  1781, the day after printer Bailey's invoice was presented and the 200 books were delivered to the Committee, James Madison,  Virginia's first delegate to Congress, apparently having immediately claimed and examined the new book , writes from Philadelphia to Thomas Jefferson, his close friend and Virginia's first Governor, "In compliance with your request I have procured and now send you a copy of the Constitutions &c. published by order of Congress" and remarks with pique " I know not why the order in which they stand in the Resolution was varied by the committee in binding them up. The encomium on the inhabitants of Rhode Island was a flourish of a Delegate from [that] state who furnished the Committee with the account of its Constitution, and was very inconsiderately suffered to be printed."  Vol.17, March 1, 1781-8/3/81, Letters of Delegates to Congress.

16./ In fact, Madison is correct that this 1781 text does not conform to the printing sequence of Congress' Order, to wit: the declaration of independence, the articles of confederation and perpetual union, the alliances between these United States and his Most Christian Majesty, with the constitutions or forms of government of the several states, to be bound together in boards."  As printed, the 1781 Constitutions of the Several States departs from a historic chronological order, and instead begins with the state constitutions, followed by the Articles of Confederation, next the Declaration of Independence and concludes with the Treaty with the King of France and Navarre. The political primacy of the Declaration of Independence, and its groundbreaking declaration that government rests with the governed, is neither first in the book's order, nor logically placed relative to the state constitutions.

Allen and Sneff, authors of an illuminating essay about James Wilson and an edition of the Declaration of Independence called the Sussex Declaration, explain that nothing is random in government printing of this era. These authors cite Congressional protocol for the order in which the signatories' names to the Declaration of Independence appear, noting that they followed a formal geographical hierarchy, north to south, in actual geographic order. In the 1781 Constitutions of the Several States the state constitutions and charters come first and follow this geographic protocol north to south. see, "Golden Letters: James Wilson, the Declaration of Independence and the Sussex Declaration", Danielle Allen and Emily Sneff, Georgetown Journal of Law and Policy, Vol 17: 193.

17./ For state governors, state legislators and educators  this  book had value as a legal text. It had value as a reference book as it contained the Declaration of Independence. And not to be underestimated, among members of the Continental Army the 1781 edition of the Constitutions of the Several States  could only have contributed in May, 1781 to the morale of commissioned officers and troops from 1781 through 1782, a time of uncertainty about the war's outcome, military hardship, financial deprivation and desertions over poor conditions and lack of pay .The Constitutions of the Several States 1781 was tangible proof of the thirteen confederated states of America and the new country's recognition by France, a major European power, who pledged military cooperation.

18./ Letter by Francis Dana, of Massachusetts, a delegate to Continental Congress prior to his diplomatic appointment and a signer of the Articles of Confederation,  appointed 1780-1783 to lead the Continental Congress mission, arrives St. Petersburg, September, 1781,

"I have not received any letter from you later than No.8, nor has the confederation or the constitutions of the several States, which you say you have sent me and which would be very acceptable to me, ever come to hand, and as you have not mentioned through what channel you sent them, I know not where to apply for them. I have written to Paris and Holland for them in vain...."  The Massachusetts Historical Society commentary on Francis Dana's mission to the Court of Russia at St. Petersburg explains it was his assignment to establish diplomatic relations and engage the support of Her Imperial Majesty Catherine the Great. He met with no success at a formal recognition of the American revolutionary government and was not received at the Russian court. See, for Francis Dana letters.

19./ Ezra L'Hommedieu, delegate from New York,  writes August 28, 1781  to Colo. William Floyd, Middletown, Connecticut, "p.s. I shall not omit procuring the Book you mention" [..."one of those Books printed in Philadelphia that Contains all the Constitutions of the Several States...."]On Sept. 8, 1781, Ezra L'Hommedieu writes to George Clinton, who served in dual roles as Gov. of New York and Brigadier General in the Continental Army: "...By Colo. Hay I send you a little book with the Constitutions of the several States which he informed me you wanted;..." Brig.Gen. Clinton visited Newburg for the 1782 celebrations and review of the troops when Lt. Adjutant John Whiting was keeping his 1782 Orderly Book.

II.  Footnotes About The Book's Owner: John Whiting

20./ "The officers of the American Army, having generally been taken from the Citizens of America, possess high veneration for the character of that illustrious Roman, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, and being resolved to follow his example, by returning to their citizenship, they think they may, with propriety, denominate themselves the Society of the Cincinnati." This organization was formed by 35 American and French military officers who served together in the Continental Army, primarily of the highest rank, including Friedrich Baron Von Steuben and Gen. Henry Knox, himself a well known Boston book store owner.  George Washington's signature is at the head of the Institution. John Whiting was one of only two lieutenants who signed the Society's founding Institution.

The  Society of the Cincinnati lists Col. John Whiting among its original members along with his brother Major Timothy Whiting, jr.  The Society of the Cincinnati catalog MSS L2020G9 MB is a "Return of Infantry of the Second Brigade in the Seventh Division of the Militia, commanded by Brigadier-General John Whiting, dated 1796". Curatorial notes state the document bears John Whiting's signature.  Not here examined.

21./ Massachusetts Spy June 26, 1794.
Please see photograph of advertisement, above. Bryant may be Reuben Bryant, a family name in Lancaster and as of August 5, 1794 a Concord, Massachusetts book store owner who may have left Whiting to start his own book store. See, Columbian Sentinel, Aug. 5, 1794 advertisement for "Concord Book-Store." One source states that Bryant married a Danforth of Billerica, and she may have been related to John Whiting's wife. Robert A. Gross, On Reconstructing Early American Libraries, AAS 1988, identifies Bryant as one of the major booksellers to the Concord Charitable Library Society (1795-1820) explaining the preference of libraries to purchase books locally.

22./ John Whiting's Probate, 1811, recorded vol. 40, page 405, and American Ancestors Probate File Papers, 1731-1881 Pages: 64596:2 Volume: Worcester Cases. The probate filing includes a personal inventory and appraisal, and an inventory and appraisal of his book store, by title, number of copies  and all equipment including bookbinding tools. Please see Section III., and bibliography below.

23./ ibid. Probate filing, creditor's list, among  whom were certain Massachusetts book publishers in Boston and Worcester with whom he was in trade. Isaiah Thomas, Isaiah Thomas Jr., Worcester, Thomas & Andrews and Manning and Loring, Boston. Leominster printers are named in some of Whiting's own published books.

24./  On May 23, 1785 in Lancaster, John Whiting married  Orpah (Orpha) Danforth originally of Billerica, Massachusetts. Together they had 8 children. Three sons became U.S. Army officers and led creative lives. Fabius (1792-1842) was, prior to his 1812 military service, a portrait painter in Lancaster. Solon (b.1797) , a silversmith, married Sara Savage of Princeton, daughter of American painter Edward Savage of Princeton. Edward Savage painted portraits of George Washington and his family for ten years, as well as Liberty as the Goddess of Youth (1796) [see Original Antique Maps catalogue]. Henry Whiting, (1788-1851) who rose to Brig. General in the U.S. Army was also a writer and published author, now best known for his transcriptions of Lt. John Whiting's manuscript records of the Revolutionary War Orders of George Washington, see bibliography below. Caroline Lee Whiting [Hentz] (1800-1856), 10 years old when her father died,  became a widely published author of fiction. Her husband Nicholas Hentz painted a posthumous portrait of her father.

25./ History of The Town of Lancaster, Mass., Rev. Abijah P. Marvin, Lancaster: Published by the Town 1879 states that John Whiting was born in Lancaster. The author recites John Whiting's considerable public service in Lancaster, Massachusetts town government. Marvin comments that John Whiting was held in high esteem,  but "having joined the party of Mr. Jefferson, could not be elected to Congress from a district where the federalists were in a large majority…" p. 329

The History of Billerica with a genealogical register, Rev. Henry A. Hazen. A. Williams and Co., Boston, 1883, locates John Whiting's father,  Timothy Whiting on the tax rolls of Billerica from 1765-1773, but living in Lancaster both before and after those dates.  Hazen identifies John Whiting as born in Billerica in December, 1759 or 1760, rather than as certain biographies contend, in Lancaster. This Billerica version of the family's history helps explain John Whiting's first patriotic service on April 19, 1775  with his father and brother in the company of the Billerica Minute Company marching to Lexington and Concord.  John Whiting's grandfather surveyor Samuel Whiting was a resident of Billerica. A photograph donated by the family to the Thayer Memorial Library of Lancaster, Massachusetts with an accompanying note on the back states Whiting was born in Billerica.

26./ John Whiting was appointed as Assistant Justice, Worcester Court of Sessions, Worcester County, Massachusetts on March 1, 1808 to serve until April 20, 1809, an appointment cut short by his being called to reenlist in the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C.

27./ National Aegis, October 10, 1810 ran John Whiting's obituary.

27.1/ "John Whiting", Nicholas Hentz, painter, water color, portrait miniature, ca. 1824-1847 with accompanying note, see Academy of Natural History at Drexel University, Library Coll 971. Curator of Art Robert Peck and Archivist Jennifer Vess provided provenance and curatorial notes. This portrait shows John Whiting in military uniform, with two silver epaulets, items listed in John Whiting's personal probate inventory. Ref. cited below. There is some question as to the period of the uniform. In the author's opinion it is likely an 1809 U.S. Army officer's uniform rather than of the Continental Army and Revolutionary War.

27.2./ There are two black and white photographs (nd) of a different portrait, possibly from life, showing John Whiting as an older man in military uniform. It is possible that this portrait (original not located) was painted  or drawn by Whiting's son, Lancaster portrait painter Fabius Whiting prior to his entering the U.S. Army in 1812. These two photographs present Whiting in a pose and military uniform similar to those of the Nicholas Hentz portrait, suggesting that Hentz's posthumous model was this portrait.  Both black and white photographs are in the collection of the Thayer Memorial Library of Lancaster, Massachusetts, one photograph inserted in Henry Whiting's copy of the Revolutionary Orders from MSS. of John Whiting and the other, with a note naming donor Caroline Lee Whiting Hentz . See William Dunlap's account of James Frothingham receiving instruction in Lancaster, Massachusetts from Fabius Whiting the portraitist who had some instruction from Gilbert Stuart. See also National Gallery of Art, Vose Gallery and others.

III.  Footnotes about John Whiting:  Military Career     

28./  "John Whiting, Billerica. Private, Col. Bridge's regt of Minute-men which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775; service 6 days; receipt for advance pay Cambridge, June 26, 1775, order for bounty coat or its equivalent, Cambr. Nov. 1775, on list of men raised for Continental Service from 7th Middlesex Co. regiment, residence Billerica; engaged for town of Billerica; Capt. Danforth's company, joined for 3 years; pay records for service Jan.-July 1777; July 27, 1777 promoted from Sergeant, Quarter Master and Lieutenant; document endorsed 1777, Roll of Worcester Co., Muster Master; July-Dec. 1779 pay records for service; letter dated 12/27/1778 from West Point to Boston, requesting 30 complete suits of clothing for the use of said Whiting, Quarter Master...;" Continental pay accounts for the year 1780, reported acting as Adjutant also Lieutenant; July 11, 1783 on list of commissioned officers. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: a compilation from the archives, State Library of Massachusetts, Wright and Potter Printing Co., State Printers, 1896, vol. 17.

29./  ibid.

30./  See Wright, The Continental Army for an untangling of the name changes of the regiment  throughout the Revolutionary War until its ultimate designation as the Massachusetts 2d Regiment. Wright states that Massachusetts contributed the greatest number of regiments to the Continental Army.

31./ see, Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War; and see, Henry Whiting's book, below, n. 33.

32./  ibid.

33./ see, Henry Whiting, Revolutionary Orders of General Washington, issued during the years 1778, '80, '81, and '82, selected from the MSS. of John Whiting, Lieut. and Adjutant of the 2d Regiment, Massachusetts Line, and edited by his son, Henry Whiting, Lieut-Col U.S.A., New York, Wiley and Putnam, 1844.

Henry Whiting explains in the introduction to his book that the book does not include all of John Whiting's Orders, as some documents were posthumously lost. One such missing set of orders does exist, John Whiting manuscript orderly book in the collection of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.Archives 4600 Bd. Ms. 24, John Whiting Orderly Book. Catalog summary: Manuscript containing general and garrison orders, beginning at Totowa, New Jersey, Nov. 22, 1780, and ending at West Point, Feb. 16, 1781. See bibliography for full catalog notes. These dates overlap Henry Whiting's examples.

34./ Washington's General Orders, 22 August, 1780, John Whiting appointed Adjutant to the Massachusetts 12th Regiment from Quartermaster.  A month later,Whiting writes a detailed letter to his brother Timothy dated September 28, 1780 dateline Camp Orangetown (N.Y.) about Benedict Arnold's affairs, his treason and the plot to take West Point at a level of detail perhaps attributable to Whiting's new status as Adjutant and record keeper of official information. See, Proceedings of the Mass. Historical Society, 1891-1892, pp.450-454 where the letter is transcribed in full.

35./ There were several soldiers named John Whiting in the Continental Army, and at least one other in New England whose biographies, dates and other data are not matches for John Whiting of Lancaster, Massachusetts' military record or documented lifetime.

 IV.  Footnotes to Identify John Whiting's Signature

36./ See, Huntington Library, mssHM 682 "kept by Lieutenant John Whiting from 4/17-6/20/1782". fol. 1r - Manuscripts - Huntington Digital Library . A second orderly book exists in the collection of Cornell University, Special Collections Library, cited in bibliography and not yet examined due to Library closures.

37./ibid., Huntington Library, fol. 1r, ink signature, page 1 "Lieut. & Adj. 2d Mass.Reg."

38./ ibid., fol.3r ink signature "John Whiting's" on the inside page of his Orderly Book dated 1872, April. 17-22 West Point, N.Y. indicating his ownership matches in all stylistic respects "John Whiting" on the title page of his book, The Constitutions of the several Independent States, 1781 and substantively as well, as John Whiting's 1781 book ownership signature also omits his military rank.

39./ibid., fol. 35r, John Whiting records the Massachusetts Line subaltern officers in a list he numbers 1.-109. and writes in cursive script the name of each officer. Whiting's ink manuscript entry for himself on this list is an exact match for his signature on The Constitutions of the several Independent States, 1781.

40./ In 1781 the Massachusetts delegates to the Continental Congress were Samuel Holton and James Lovell.

40.1/By letter dated Aug. 17, 1784, Charles Thomson, Secretary to the Continental Congress writes to Virginia delegate Samuel Hardy and introduces a strange twist to the topic of who had control of the unsold copies of the 1781 book edition. Hardy had written Thomson for a copy of the 1781 edition of book. Thomson replies he "went immediately to Mr. Bailey and had the Mortification to learn that not one of the books of Constitutions left. He sent a number of them to England for sale: But as they had reprinted there his views were not answered. He has therefore ordered them back and expects to receive them by a vessel that is hourly expected to arrive. As soon as they come I shall not fail to procure one and forward it to you or the Governor." How to square this narrative with Bailey delivering all 200 books to the Continental Committee on May 4, 1781 and being paid in full? Perhaps by 1783, the Committee returned undistributed books to Bailey to store. Perhaps this is an early example of double dipping by a government contractor. Bailey's inability to sell his 1781 copies of the Constitution of the several States in London where it had been copied and published by British publishers in 1783 editions is an ironic example of London publishers of 1783 undermining the American printer of America's groundbreaking compendium . See Letters of Delegates 1774-1789.

41./ Brig. General Clinton visited Gen. George Washington at Newburg as noted in John Whiting's 1782 Orderly Book. Brig.Gen. Clinton received his own copy of the book from his delegate Ezra L'Hommedieu courtesy of Col. Hay.

42./ The Society of the Cincinnati includes Lieut. & Adj. John Whiting, Mass. Reg. as a founding member. His name is just legible on the Institution. The Society of the Cincinnati

43./ Attributed to Kevin Hayes, George Washington A  Life in Books.

44./ John Whiting Probate Inventory. See bibliography below for full citation.

V.  Footnotes about John Whiting's Bookstore 1794-1810

45./  See, Robert J. Cormier, with  Jennifer J. Goguen and Laura K. Libbey, John Whiting(1760-1810) of Lancaster, Massachusetts: a brief biography: Transcription and analysis of the inventory of his book store . This is the first research on John Whiting's book store,  a review of the title list, prepared in 1990 before on line research had reached its current robust levels.  I am deeply grateful for Cormier, Goguen and Libbey's ground breaking research. My gratitude for exceptional help is due Brianne Barrett, Research Associate at AAS who while the 2020 pandemic library closed libraries throughout the United States, provided me via email with research assistance, including copies of excerpts of Cormier's unique text and successfully located in the AAS American newspaper archives the newly discovered and only located published notice of John Whiting's book store. It is presented here by Original Antique Maps in this essay.

46./ A Map  of the Town of Lancaster Reduced from the Plan made by Jacob Fisher, Esq., From Actual Survey, A.D. 1830, by James G. Carter.1831.
Pendleton's Lithography Boston. See. private collection.

47./ Whiting Probate Inventory. See Note 22 for full cite, and see bibliography.

48./ The Life of Mahomet, with sketches of the reigns of his successors ABubeker, Omar, Othan, and Ali: From the decline & fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon.
printed at Leominster [Mass] by Salmon Wilder, for John Whiting of Lancaster, 1805
see, Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection, Univ. Massachusetts Amherst, Call No. Rural Mass.BP75.G54 1805.
The John Whiting probate inventory lists 200 copies "sewed".

Mirth and Song: consisting of A lecture on heads, written by George Alexander Stevens, esq. and The Courtship, with a collection of approved songs. Printed by E. Lincoln for John Whiting of Lancaster, 1804. Whiting's probate inventory lists 180 copies of this book; 400 in sheets.

49./ Builder's Jewel, New England Farmer, American Herbal et al.

50./ The Whiting Probate contains the standard List of Creditors and Accounts paid and these documents name mostly local book publishers. Whiting might have been buying their books for cash, or trading books for books. He may also have been doing book binding for them in exchange for books, or cash. For example, a book listed in the probate inventory, Stranger in France, is an Isaiah Thomas book and he is a listed probate creditor. British Classics (1802) is a Thomas & Andrews printing and T&A is a creditor. Zimmerman on Solitude, trans. from the French was printed by Joseph Bumstead and advertised as "sold by him...and by booksellers in various parts of the United States 1804" illustrating the nationwide distribution of books, sometimes via publisher's agents that were printed in Boston, Worcester, New York and Philadelphia and landed as far away as rural Lancaster.

I have found no record of who acquired the considerable book store inventory from John Whiting's 1811 probate estate.

51./ Gilreath, Proceedings of AAS, 1985.

52./ Gilreath, Proceedings of AAS, 1985, offers a good argument and detailed description of book distribution and book selling in 18th c. and early 19th c. America with its mix of imported and local imprints, citing the few known examples. His essay is helpful for an understanding of John Whiting's book store operations.  Gilreath asks whether college libraries were "warehouses of ancestor worship."  He credits subscription libraries and book stores for being leaders in the dissemination of new ideas. John Whiting was in the late 18th c. and early 19th c. offered books in the vanguard of ideas and he may also have understood operating a book store was his practical means of building a book collection and library. John Whiting and his book store as here discussed add a new substantive example.

53./ By 1801, John Whiting had an established local reputation as a book binder. Some binding work was done for authors, and other binding work likely was done for printers and publishers.  One such author was Dr. Daniel Stearns who writes in 1801 to his friend Asa Houghton about his book The American Herbal or materia medica.,  "I have lately sent to Gen. Whiting 28 Books in sheets, and the price is 16 Dollars & 94 Cents and I have ordered him to pay the Money to you…" See, Clark, John C.L.,"The Famous Dr. Stearns, A Biographical Sketch of Dr. Samuel Stearns With a Bibliography," American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, 1935, pp. 317-373. Stearns' book was printed by David Carlisle,/Thomas & Thomas, and the author. (1801). Dr. Samuel Stearns' book is on the John Whiting probate inventory list. By 1801, John Whiting had been operating his book store for seven years, and likely was at least as well known as a book store owner as he was a book binder.

54./ see Gilreath.

55./ According to  Robert J. Cormier in his introduction, it was a chance discovery to find the probate inventory of John Whiting's book store as Cormier was looking for something else altogether!


Allen, Danielle and Emily Sneff
"Golden Letters: James Wilson, the Declaration of Independence and the Sussex Declaration", Georgetown Journal of Law and Policy, vo. 17: 1993, pp.193-203.

Chyet, Stanley F.,
"The Political Rights of the Jews in the United States: 1776-1840.", American Jewish Archives, April, 1958. (available on line)

Clark, John C.L.
"The Famous Dr. Stearns, A Biographical Sketch of Dr. Samuel Stearns With a Bibliography", American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings, 1935, pp. 317-373.
footnote 1 citing: H.S. Nourse, "The Retailers of Lancaster and Their Stores",

Clinton Courant, 14 March, 1896, "No. 5  – The Retailers of Lancaster and Their Stores"

Journals of the Continental Congress, Letters of Delegates 1774-1789
Edited from the Original Records in the Library of Congress by Gaillard Hunt,Chief, Div. of Manuscripts
Washington, Govt. Printing Office 1912.

See also, Ralph M. Gephart , Letters of Delegates 1774-1789.[digital edition]

Cormier, Robert J. ,
John Whiting (1760-1810) of Lancaster, Massachusetts : a brief biography/
Transcription and analysis of the inventory of his book store by Jennifer J. Goguen and Laura K. Libbey.(various pagings), private distribution, [Grafton, Massachusetts] 1990.
note: Robert J. Cormier, a historian  and elected member of the American Antiquarian Society, taught history at Shrewsbury, Massachusetts High School, and shared authorship with two of his advanced placement history students. See Only located copy at:AAS Catalog Record : 160286, R W599 Corm J990 Copy 1 Stacks.

Gilreath, James, "Book Distribution in late 18th and early 19th c. America," pp.501-584, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. 95, Part 2, Oct. 1985

Hazen, Rev. Henry A., History of Billerica with a Genealogical Register
A. Williams and Co., Boston, 1883

Marvin, Rev. Abijah Perkins, History of the Town of Lancaster Massachusetts, vol. 1
Lancaster: Published by the Town 1879,  J.E. Farwell & Co. Boston

Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: a compilation from the archives, State Library of Massachusetts, vol.17,
Wright and Potter Printing Co., State Printers, Boston, 1896

Nobles, Gregory, "The Rise of Merchants In Rural Massachusetts Towns: A Case Study of Eighteenth Century Northampton, Massachusetts."J. of Social History, Autumn, 1990, Vol. 24, No. 1 pp. 5-23. Oxford University Press.

Nourse, H.S., Lancastriana: I. A. Supplement to the Early Records and Military Annals of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Lancaster: 1900; and, The Early Records of Lancaster, 1881.

Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1891-1892, Boston: Published by The Society. 1892

Revolutionary Orders of General Washington, issued during the years 1778, '80,'81 & '82 selected from the mss. of John Whiting, Lieut and Adj. of the 2nd Regt. Mass. Line, and edited by his son, Lieut.-Col. Henry Whiting, U.S.A.
Wiley and Putnam, New York, 1844  (digital edition available online)

Whiting –, "Whiting, Captain John"
genealogical record assembled by Whiting descendants

Worcester County, Massachusetts, Probate Court Records
John Whiting, esq., Administratrix's Account (Orpah Whiting), Nov. 19, 1811, Recorded Vol. 40, Page 405. Final Account, allowed November 21, 1815.
Available in high resolution digital images at: Online database. American New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

American Ancestors, Worcester County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1731-1881. Worcester Cases 64000-65999, Case No. 64596, Page 64596:1-36.

Wright, Robert K., Jr.
The Continental Army, Army Lineage Series, Center of Military History
U.S. Army, Washington, D.C. 1983
(available in Hathi Trust digital edition)

Wright, Robert K., Jr. Massachusetts Militia Roots: A Bibliographic Study
Depts. Army and Air Force, Historical Services Branch Office of Public Affairs
National Guard Bureau, Washington, D.C. 1986


Clinton Courant, 14 March, 1896, Nourse, H.S. , by pseudonym, Tahanto,"The Retailers of Lancaster and Their Stories. No.5"

Worcester Spy,  June 26, 1794, book store advertisement

Worcester Spy, June 17, 1801, political candidacy for Congress, John Whiting's character and in support of his candidacy for U.S. Congress.

Worcester Spy, August 19, 1801, opinion piece about John Whiting's qualifications for Congress

National Aegis, October 10, 1810, John Whiting's obituary.

Manuscript and Digital Material in Institutional Collections:

1. With characteristic Scot reserve, the National Library of Scotland exhibition catalogue for its exhibition of America's founding documents identifies the 1781  first edition of our book, The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America,  as the "Handbook of key texts published by Congress, 1781." The NLS curators of Foreign Collections participate in an excellent video discussion of featured documents in this exhibition. see, NLS web site Digital resources - National Library of Scotland

2.  Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
     Archives 4600 Bd. Ms. 24, John Whiting Orderly Book.

Catalog summary: "Manuscript containing general and garrison orders, beginning at Totowa, New Jersey, Nov. 22, 1780, and ending at West Point, Feb. 16, 1781. It also includes transcriptions of official messages, copies of Congressional resolutions affecting the Army, and details of regimental life. Whiting records General Washington's praise of the conduct of the Marquis de Lafayette, the taking of Fort St. George on Long Island by Major Talmadge and his troops, the acquittal of Major David S. Franks of complicity in Arnold's treason, and an account of the Battle of Cowpens, S.C. Whiting took part in the Battle of Concord. Joining the Continental Army, he served under Generals Arnold and Gates, and was with Washington until the latter assumed the immediate command against Cornwallis in Virginia."

3. Huntington Library,  The Huntington
Fully photographed and viewable on line. unique digital identifier 427854mssHM 682,  John Whiting Orderly Book the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment, West Point, N.Y. 1782, Apr.17-June 20

4. Library of Congress. Journals of the Continental Congress. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. | Library of Congress

5.  John Whiting family home, Lancaster, Massachusetts, photograph, please see

6. Society of the Cincinnati, Museum Collections. Society of the Cincinnati

7. Thayer Memorial Library, Special Collections and Museum, Lancaster, Massachusetts, whose archivist and director helpfully made available the cited Henry Nourse article written under the pseudonym "Tahanto", and provided images of two black and white photographs of a portrait of John Whiting, both  going above and beyond while the Library was closed to the public.

Antique Map References:

1. Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library
See, Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, at the Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts for its collection of maps of Colonial America and the American Revolutionary War.

2.  A New Map of North America with the West India Islands Divided According to the Preliminary Articles of Peace, Signed at Versailles 20 Jan. 1783 printed for Robert Sayres, London, 1786 wherein are particularly Distinguished THE UNITED STATES, and the Several Provinces, Governments etc. that Compose The British Dominions; Laid Down according to the Latest Surveys and Corrected from The Original Materials of Gover. Pownall, Mem. of Parlia. 1783. Printed for Robert Sayer, London, 1786.

See, Original Antique Maps at, for a high resolution photograph and a full map description. This map is sometimes referred to as the "Pownall Map of North America" for Pownall's mid-18th c. American surveys upon which the map is largely based. This map, published at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, shows boundaries as of the peace between the United States and the King of Great Britain.

3. Lancaster Town Map, dated 1795, Massachusetts State Archives

4. A Map  of the Town of Lancaster Reduced from the Plan made by Jacob Fisher, Esq., From Actual Survey, A.D. 1830, by James G. Carter.1831.
Pendleton's Lithography Boston. personal collection, Original Antique Maps

This map shows the second Whiting home labeled "Widow Whiting" north of the Town Center, at the intersection of the main roads. The John Whiting house is still standing today and currently occupied. John Whiting's first home located across the street from Whiting's Tavern, on the Old Common is also shown, labeled with its then current owner's name.  The "Historical Sketch" on this 1831 Lancaster town map states there is a bookstore and an extensive bindery. According to later 19th c. Lancaster historian Nourse, a book store was operated by the Carter brothers.

Item Type Taxonomy: 
Geographic Scope: 
The Back Room
Published Location Freeform: 
Francis Bailey, Printer