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.-AND The Treaties Between Their High Mightinesses The States General of the United Netherlands and the United States of America. Published originally by Order of Congress. The Second Edition. (1785)
black and white engraved and letter press printing on laid paper and wove paper
Unrestored original condition
as found good original condition, text complete, imprint dark with occasional extra dark imprints on evenly toned paper throughout, some light foxing on pages, outside edges of some pages toned or darkened, original calf leather binding in generally good condition with some damage, binding tight, five raised bands on leather spine, some wear to leather at top and small loss at bottom of spine, some cracks in leather spine along hinges and some separation along bottom hinge, both pasted down endpapers toned around perimeter mirroring glued leather binding edges underneath. - the armorial bookplate of HEZEKIAH SMITH is pasted down on the inside cover, the manuscript signature "Hezekiah Smith's 1785" is in cursive on title page, and the manuscript signature "Rebecca Smith's 1805" is in cursive on first front inside endpaper, both manuscript signatures in period ink. The book plate has a manuscript pencil inscription "Search the Scriptures." Pagination: primary text is numbered 1-181. Treaties with King of France 1.-14. and treaties with the Netherlands 15.-26. Definitive Treaty of Peace Between Great Britain and America p. 26-29. Finis . two front and back end papers, two pasted down endpapers.
6.75 × 4.125 × 1.125 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale

Our distinctive copy of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States 1785  was owned by Baptist Pastor Hezekiah Smith (1737-1805), of the First Baptist Church of Haverhill, Massachusetts (1765-1805) whose American, 18th c. engraved armorial bookplate x/  is attached to the inside front cover. Hezekiah Smith also signs and dates his name in script "Hezekiah Smith's 1785". The book's front first free endpaper is signed "Rebecca Smith's 1805" and she is Hezekiah Smith's daughter (b. 1782) who appears to have inherited or been given her father's book in the year he died. Hezekiah Smith dates his ownership of the book as 1785, the same year the book was published, making it likely Hezekiah Smith is the book's first owner. There are other examples of his book plates and of a book with this bookplate at the Haverhill Public Library.1./ This edition is a newly discovered example of a book from Hezekiah Smith's library.

Hezekiah Smith was a 1762 graduate of the College of New Jersey at Princeton, in 1765 a founding fellow of Rhode Island College (Brown University),  from 1776 to 1780 a Revolutionary War chaplain  in the Massachusetts Line who was invited to dine with Gen. George Washington, and throughout these decades both an educator and traveling Baptist pastor preaching the scriptures to the curious and the baptized. Members of this Baptist  faith were a minority in the new independent states of America. They were constitutionally and politically restricted as citizens either with respect to the vote or to holding elected public office and in Massachusetts as to taxation. Immediately after the Declaration of Independence, with few exceptions, the first adopted state constitutions established the Anglican church as the state religion and required adherence to this church as a condition to full political participation. The state's power of taxation to support the state church extended to the property of citizens who did not participate in that church. Thus Pastor Smith as a Baptist had both political and religious reasons for acquiring his 1785 edition of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States.  He was most concerned with reforming the establishment of religion clauses in these  early state constitutions, and in particular doing so in the Massachusetts constitution.  

By 1785, many of the original 13 states were on the second generation of their founding constitutions. 2./ Virginia's 1785 Act for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson and sponsored by James Madison, is regarded by some as "the most signal advance made by a state in the struggle for complete religious liberty during the eighteenth century." 3/ The Virginia 1785 Act for Religious Freedom provided momentum and the philosophical basis for the U.S. Constitutional rejection of an established religion. Hezekiah Smith's signed copy of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States 1785 captures this historical moment and his place in it as an advocate for religious liberty.

The 1785 second  American edition of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States updates the 1781 American first edition. 4/The update consists of the new Treaties Between Their High Mightinesses The States General of the United Netherlands and the United States of America. 5/ The second edition of this book is privately printed unlike the first edition that was printed by order of Congress by the government printer Francis Bailey. 6/ Historical evidence supports identifying the second edition's printer Norman as Boston engraver and printer John Norman (1744?-1817), who came to Boston in 1781 and set up his shop on Marshall's Lane.7./ The firm "Norman and Bowen" is likely John Norman's partnership with Daniel Bowen, an established Boston printer.8/ The firm placed a "Just Published" announcement in the April 2, 1785 issue of The Massachusetts Centinel  "By Norman & Bowen, In Marshall's Lane, near the Boston Stone, The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America... - Those gentlemen who have been kind enough to subscribe, will please to call at said Norman's for their Books. N.B. The Constitutions may be had, at the sign of Shakespeare's head, Marlborough Street." Hezekiah Smith signs his copy of the Constitutions book and dates it 1785. Perhaps he was a subscriber.

Hezekiah Smith's book plate  motto "BEAUTY AND GRACE", may be read with a Christian meaning, as it is engraved in large block letters above Pastor Smith's name, the "Z" in Hezekiah for some reason engraved backwards. The composition places this motto in juxtaposition with Hezekiah Smith's name as well. One might read  the conjunctive  "AND" joining "Beauty and Smith" or "Hezekiah and Grace". The book plate's symbolism  also contains American heraldic elements: there are three "daisies" on a large plain shield, a knight's armorial helmet, scroll work framing the entire composition, all of which are topped by an open book with a Greek inscription, and above the book the sun drawn with a human face surrounded by rays, known in heraldry as the "sun in his splendour". 9/A manuscript pencil notation next to the Greek inscription reads "Search the Scriptures" likely a translation of the Greek  inscription and a motto fitting for an American 18th c. Baptist pastor for whom the biblical scriptures and finding beauty and grace in his faith were core practices.

Hezekiah Smith's Education, Pastoral Work, Founding of Rhode Island College:

After graduating at age 25 from the College of New Jersey at Princeton, Hezekiah Smith traveled south through New England and Pennsylvania to South Carolina, where he preached both in cities and in the back country at a time when a Baptist separatist movement was well underway. He spent fifteen months in the south and was ordained there in 1763. Upon returning to New England and to Haverhill in 1764, Pastor Smith withstood many challenges from the established Protestant population in his work to establish the first Baptist church north of Boston. In January, 1765 Smith succeeded in establishing a Baptist Society in Haverhill. Controversy continued in the press in Haverhill and among surrounding Merrimack River towns. Hezekiah Smith persisted. The Haverhill Baptist Church is one of his legacies today. The comprehensive study of the life, ministry and works of Hezekiah Smith is John David Broome's lucid book that examines the journals of Hezekiah Smith and related contemporary materials.10./ I have relied on Broome for the description of Hezekiah Smith's life presented here.  

In 1765 Smith joined his close and longtime friend, and College of New Jersey classmate Baptist James Manning to establish a Baptist college in Rhode Island.  The new college was governed by thirty-six trustees and twelve fellows, of which Smith was made an original fellow. These founders were responsible for the initial funding of the school, for teaching the students and conferring degrees. Smith traveled from Haverhill, Massachusetts to Providence for forty years in fulfillment of these responsibilities. In 1769, Smith again traveled to the south to raise money for Rhode Island College, making Charleston, South Carolina his base where the Baptist religion was popular. 11./ Smith was one of two individuals sent out by the new college to raise subscriptions to finance the new college. During Smith's seven month stay, he is credited with obtaining subscriptions for several thousand pounds,  a considerable amount of money for Rhode Island College. These Subscription Books are in Brown University's Repository of Historical Documents.

Rhode Island College conferred on Pastor Smith two honorary degrees, a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Divinity in recognition of his major roles in the founding and academic work of the young college.  Broome's analysis of  Hezekiah Smith's correspondence and diaries from this period of travel in the American south provide original source material that contributes to an understanding of how wealth generated by many sources, including slavery made its way into Colonial American institutions and colleges.12/

Broome gives considerable credit to Hezekiah Smith for his academic leadership of Rhode Island College in the post American Revolution era and for maintaining the high academic standards established in 1765, which emulated the curriculum of the College of New Jersey. 13/  The scope of Broome's research includes both Hezekiah Smith's work and the settings in which Smith lived. 14/ Hezekiah Smith's decades of travel in pursuit of his commitment to Rhode Island College, to pastoral work and to American constitutional democracy are remarkable.

Revolutionary War Service:

Hezekiah Smith served in the Massachusetts Line from the beginning of the Revolutionary War, being listed in 1775 as Chaplain in John Nixon's 5th Regiment, promoted to Brigade Chaplain in 1777 and as of October 13, 1780 was reported discharged by permission of General Washington.15/  Hezekiah Smith interrupted his role as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Haverhill only during his five year Revolutionary War service. As Chaplain of Nixon's Battalion, in 1778 Hezekiah Smith was invited by General Washington to have dinner with him in White Plains, New York. 16/ General Washington was known for his belief in the free exercise of religion regardless of denomination.17./ Smith had the status of an officer in the Continental Army. He acted as aide de camp to Colonel Nixon even as Nixon was appointed to General. 18./ Smith preached to both fellow officers and troops.19./


This historic 1785 edition of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States from Baptist Minister Hezekiah Smith's library was published at a time of fundamental constitutional reform on the question of separation of church and state just two years prior to the U.S. Constitutional convention. The ostensible purpose of the 1785 edition of this compendium was to further educate the public about the new country's founding documents. This 1785 book also served as a comprehensive constitutional reference for individuals actively engaged in perfecting the new country's laws by providing the missing statutory and constitutional mechanisms for the actual exercise of the fundamental rights declared in the Declaration of Independence, including freedom of religion.

Hezekiah Smith's  edition of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States, 1785  and his life remind us of the decades of debate and patience required to establish America's state and federal constitutional framework for the free exercise of religion and the disallowance of a state established religion. This fundamental tenet of American liberty is perhaps no less challenged today than it was in 1785.


1. Smith's bookplate appears in several American book plate reference books and special collections. Our book with this book plate is a new discovery of a book from Hezekiah Smith's personal library. Please see the Haverhill Public Library in Haverhill, Massachusetts. See also the American Antiquarian Society collection Bookplates, Booksellers' and Binders' Labels.   Bookplates and Booksellers' Labels | American Antiquarian Society .  The University of Delaware Library, Special Collections Department identifies the book plate as American. Hezekiah Smith.

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

3. Ibid. at p. 43.

4./ 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.

Philadelphia: Printed by Francis Bailey, in Market Street

M.DCCLXXXI. (1781)

Please see the first edition on offer by Original Antique Maps that is signed by Revolutionary War patriot and book store owner John Whiting of Lancaster, Massachusetts.

This  rare 1781 first edition of  The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America that by Order of Congress dated December 29, 1780 was printed in a limited edition of 200 by Francis Bailey of Philadelphia as government printer. The book format is new to 18th c. American publishing 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. 

5./ In the interim between the first and second American editions, to satisfy European demand for information about America's new state constitutions, the compendium was next privately published in 1783 in eight European reprint editions and in 1786 in an American 1786 reprint edition of the first edition. 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.

6./ See note 4 above.

7./ See, American Antiquarian Society curatorial comments accompanying "Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project, Verses in Vogue with the Vulgar" that places John Norman in 1781 at his Marshall's Lane address. One book discussed in that study, The Massachusetts Harmony.../By a lover of harmony. was in 1786 "Printed and sold by John Norman at his shop on Marshall's Lane, near the Boston Stone."

8./ Bowen is likely Daniel Bowen as he was a Boston printer of note and his dates are consistent with our book. See, The Historical Magazine and Notes and Queries Concerning Antiquities, Vol. VII. Second Series, Morrisania, N.Y. Henry B. Dawson, 1870. Daniel Bowen, identified as a Boston printer, taught his  nephew Abel Bowen. See, Massachusetts Historical Society, Adams Papers, digital edition, Diary of Charles Francis Adams, vol. 3. Daniel Bowen is credited with founding the Columbian Museum in 1795 in Boston. There is also in 1786 a Daniel Bowen on Chapel Street in New Haven to whom is attributed A Front View of Yale College and College Chapel, 1786.

9./        The Hezekiah Smith bookplate is mentioned in American Book-Plates, A Guide to their Study with Examples by Charles Dexter Allen, at plate number 790,  and is positively identified as American dated to the late Jacobean period. Allen translates the Greek as "the sun in splendor above it" and adds  "Of Massachusetts".  American Heraldry Society dates the bookplate to the mid 1700's and cites Charles Knowles Bolton, Bolton's American Armory, Boston: F.W. Faxon Co., 1927.

10./ Broome, John David

The Life, Ministry, and Journals of Hezekiah Smith

Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Haverhill, Massachusetts 1765 to 1805 and Chaplain in the American Revolution 1775 to 1780

Warren Association Series

Particular Baptist Press, Springfield, Missouri 2004

11./ Broome at 108.

12./ Broome at p. 136.

13./ Broome at 107

14./ Broome comments at p. 37 on there being slaves in Haverhill, Massachusetts.  Regarding Smith's preaching in South Carolina, Broome explains that the gatherings included both free persons and slaves together in worship.

15./ Massachusetts Secretary of State Records, vol. 14, Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors (1896 ed.)

16./ Broome at p. 137 regarding this formal invitation. Broome does not find support for claim elsewhere that Smith had an ongoing correspondence or relationship with Gen. Washington.  For Gen. Washington's invitation itself, see Auction Catalogue, Skinner's, November 1, 2014, Description of Lot of 18th c. manuscript items pertaining to Reverend Hezekiah Smith, including dinner invitation from General George Washington, dated August 1st, 1778. The auction catalogue references Smith's personal journals and letters.

17. A letter by George Washington dated August 18, 1790 to a Newport, Rhode Island Jewish Congregation is highlighted by George Washington's Mt. Vernon to illustrate Washington's view of the relationship between government and its citizens, and among citizens on the topic of religious liberty:

"All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

From George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport …

18. Broome at p. 133.

19. Pastor Hezekiah Smith and Lieut. and Adjutant John Whiting were both in Orangetown, New York in September 1780 serving in the Massachusetts Line, when Pastor Smith preached to the troops.


American Antiquarian Society

Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project Verses in Vogue with the Vulgar

web based publication

Broome, John David

The Life, Ministry, and Journals of Hezekiah Smith

Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Haverhill, Massachusetts 1765 to 1805 and Chaplain in the American Revolution 1775 to 1780

Warren Association Series

Particular Baptist Press, Springfield, Missouri 2004

Geographic Scope: 
The Back Room
Published Location Freeform: 
Boston: Printed by Norman and Bowen, in Marshall's- Lane, near the Boston-Stone.