Exploring the collections of the Mercantile Library:

Happy Birthday to the Constitution
With Constitution Day coming soon this month once again, a memory stands out about what I was doing on the 200th anniversary of the formal signing of the Constitution of the United States of America, ratified the following spring by the existing states. It was a perfect St. Louis September day, when the summer humidity gives way to the autumn fresh air, and I was downtown at work in my books in our old building. Already by the later 1980's I had been successful in collecting a number of river vessel bells and we were able to ring them, as loudly as they ever have been rung before or since, to celebrate the shared citizenship of those born or having immigrated to these shores. It stopped traffic, and I’m sure the usual visitors to 510 Locust Street four decades ago long remembered our peeling and ringing serenade from the top floor of the building. 

It's not well remembered that one of the earliest printings of the U.S. Constitution was not in an American publication at all, but in the venerable Gentleman’s Magazine, ironically a British journal of current events.
It had also printed almost immediately on their creation, the Declaration of Independence, and later, Washington’s Farewell Address.  
Of course, since that nation’s own seventeenth century revolution and even earlier back to Magna Carta, a significant portion of its population always celebrated freedom from arbitrary trampling on the rights of mankind.
Out of great national necessity the Constitution and federalism came about in rapid order after the mid 1780’s; The Constitution was quickly debated across the nations’ state houses. 
It took longer for the Federalists like Washington and Hamilton to create the stability in which the Constitution could take root.  In 1789-90, The Gazette of the United States was a newspaper tool in which Washington explained to the young nation the new role of government. 
The Constitution reached early citizens in newspapers like this and others, and could be read in almanacs and broadsides as well. It also echoed in many other forms, from the new states’ own versions to the language of the constitutions of early American cultural institutions’ constitutions, as our own at the Mercantile, a fitting document to be repeatedly commemorated and treasured through the generations by American patriots—like you! --JNH
The international community saw this coming of the first president as the hallmark of the Revolution, and of democracy at work: rather than some strong man catapulted to power with a ferocious army and a noisy mob at his back, the Constitution provided that a modest, lanky redheaded patriot with a talent for leadership and a head for numbers and hard work would set the stage for the American future. This is a copy of the state papers at the Mercantile Library of Washington’s first inaugural address, donated from the library of another ardent federalist, Joseph Charless, Missouri’s first printer.
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