How different are the early versions of the U.S. Constitution?

Did you know that the text of the Constitution signed by delegates at the Constitutional Convention was not quite the text of Constitution as received by the states for ratification? The states received a printed version of the parchment text containing mostly minor differences. But according to Philip Huff there were four (again, slightly) different versions of the Constitution circulating at the time:

  1. The parchment signed by the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention
  2. The September 18 print of John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole, printed at the Philadelphia Convention’s behest. This formed the basis for the earliest newspaper printings of the Constitution.
  3. The September 28 print forwarded by the Confederation Congress to the states
  4. The form of the text Francis Childs and John Swaine, official “Printers to the United States,” included in their 1789 session laws volume wherein it was prefaced by a resolution of Congress that “there be prefixed to the Publication of the Acts of the present Session of Congress, a correct Copy of the Constitution of the United States.”

In How Different Are the Early Versions of the United States Constitution?: An Examination, 20 Green Bag 2d 163 (2017) Huff  offers “a study of constitutional minutiae: The parchment and the September 28 print have been carefully compared, and the most interesting results of the collation are reported.”

See also Huff’s variorum of the US Constitution here. Joe

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