CAIRO – 22 November 2021: On November 23, Sotheby's auctions will put a group of rare American documents related to the Constitution and the regulation of rights in the United States for sale.
Among these is a document dated August 1789, issued by the United States House of Representatives, and approving several state legislatures to propose amendments to the United States Constitution.
The document is a model for the first separate printing of amendments to the Constitution called Bills of Rights. It is the first printed version of the proposed amendments as clearly delineated articles to be a founding document of the United States, on par with the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
The rare manuscript is 3 pages (342 x 210 mm) of glossy paper (watermarked) separated on fold with some short marginal rips. The first sheet is precisely reinforced at the left margin, with a blue canvas foldable bag. The inner cover is signed by Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Bidding for the manuscript will start at $450,000 and its price is expected to reach $1 million.
The story of the document dates back to the first Congressional meeting with President George Washington, in New York City in 1789, as the Americans did not assume that the constitution-making process had been completed, many expected the document to be amended immediately.
Several state conventions ratified the Constitution with the expectation that their proposals for improvement would be adopted.
Most of the proposed amendments arose from one of the main criticisms of anti-federalists such as the Pennsylvania letter against the constitution, which lacked a bill of rights similar to that inscribed in most state constitutions.
Americans desperately wanted guarantees that the federal government would not use its vast powers to infringe on key individual rights.
The Philadelphia Convention may not have considered rights much, but it did provide a way in which Americans could add amendments.
Article V of the Constitution sets out the procedures for amending the Basic Law of the Nation.