Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE - The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 1
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
PREFACE - Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 1 
The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911). Vol. 1.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
To JOHN FRANKLIN JAMESON
The available sources of our information for studying the work of the convention that framed the present Constitution of the United States are scattered through various printed volumes; and some material has never been published. The present work was undertaken with the primary purpose of gathering all available records into a single work of two or three volumes, but it was also intended that these records should be in trustworthy form. The latter aspect has subsequently developed into the more important feature of this edition.
It has been found that most printed texts of the more important records cannot be accepted implicitly because of the liberties that have been taken with the manuscripts in preparing them for publication. Furthermore, in the case of the most important record of all, Madison’s Debates, it is easily proved that, over thirty years after the Convention, the author revised the manuscript and made many changes upon insufficient data, which seriously impaired the value of his notes. This is also true of other records. It has accordingly become the first purpose of the editor in this work to present the records of the Federal Convention in the most trustworthy form possible. Mistakes and inaccuracies are unavoidable, but no effort has been spared to reduce these to a minimum.
The other purpose of this work, to gather all of the available records into a convenient and serviceable edition, has not, however, been neglected. From the editor’s own experience and from that of others in studying and teaching the subject of the formation of our Constitution, certain needs have presented themselves in quite definite form, and the attempt has been made to meet those needs in the present edition. The extent and variety of the material has made the task a difficult one to accomplish, and the results are by no means satisfactory. Other methods of arrangement have been tried, but in every case insuperable objections presented themselves, and it finally seemed best to adopt the plan of gathering together all the records of each day’s session, and of allowing each record for that day to remain complete by itself. This method has made it impossible to place subject headings at the top of each page, and the editor has endeavored partially to supply this lack by giving cross references to some of the more important subjects in foot-notes, and by making the general index as nearly exhaustive as is possible. A special index has been added, giving such references for every clause in the Constitution finally adopted as will enable any one to trace the origin and development of that particular clause, and to find every item in the present work that bears upon it.
While carrying on his investigations the editor has been fairly overwhelmed by the courtesies extended to him. In the examination of manuscripts, every possible facility has been afforded him. He was placed at a disadvantage by working most of the time at a great distance from the depositories of all the documents he required, and his work would have been prolonged indefinitely, — it would, perhaps, have been impossible — had it not been for the assistance rendered him whenever asked: documents have been examined, copied, and even photographed for his special use; every request has been cheerfully complied with, and no trouble seems to have been too great. Where the material was in printed form, permission to reprint has been readily granted in every instance. Assuredly, the “gospel of service” is a fundamental article in the creed of American historical scholarship.
In publicly acknowledging his indebtedness to so many who have been of service to him, the editor desires to express his obligations in particular: to Mr. John A. Tonner, Chief of the Bureau of Rolls and Library of the Department of State, to his predecessors, Mr. William McNeir and Mr. Andrew H. Allen, and to their obliging assistants, in whose care are most of the manuscripts from which the texts of this edition have been taken; to the late Edward King, of New York City, for permission to use the Rufus King manuscripts, to the New York Historical Society and its Librarian, Mr. Robert H. Kelby, the custodians of these manuscripts; to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and its Librarian, Mr. John W. Jordan, for the privilege of examining and copying the Wilson manuscripts; to Mr. Herbert Putnam and his able staff in the Library of Congress for their many courtesies, especially to Mr. Worthington C. Ford, the former Chief of the Division of Manuscripts and to the present Chief, Mr. Gaillard Hunt, who have been unfailing in their kindliness and assistance; to Mr. William Harden, Librarian of the Georgia Historical Society, for his scholarly description of the annotations on Baldwin’s copy of the printed draft of September 12; to the Department of Foreign Affairs of the French Government for the privilege of examining and copying from its Archives; to the Editors of the American Historical Review for permission to reprint documents from that journal; to Miss Kate Mason Rowland for permission to use extracts from her Life of George Mason; to Mr. William M. Meigs for the privilege of reprinting the draft of the Committee of Detail, published in photograph facsimile in his Growth of the Constitution; to Messrs. G. P. Putnam’s Sons for permission to reprint freely from their series of “Writings of the Fathers of the Republic” — Jefferson, King, Madison, Randolph and Washington; and to the Macmillan Company for permission to reprint extracts from A. H. Symth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin.
The editor has repeatedly called upon his friends for advice and assistance, which have always been cheerfully given. Without holding them in any way responsible for its short-comings, he wishes to express his appreciation of the fact that this work would not have taken its present form had it not been for their suggestions, nor would the editor have endured to the end but for their kindly encouragement. He is especially grateful to President Lowell of Harvard; to Mr. Frederick J. Turner, of Wisconsin; to Mr. Charles H. Hull, of Cornell; to the late Edward G. Bourne, of Yale; and to Mr. Roger Foster, of New York. He feels still more indebted to two others who have been his constant advisers and have rendered him every assistance ungrudgingly — Mr. Andrew C. McLaughlin, of Chicago, and Mr. J. Franklin Jameson, Director of the Department of Historical Research of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. To the latter this work has been dedicated in recognition of his great services to the cause of American historical scholarship.
Finally, the editor would express his appreciation of the consideration shown him by President David Starr Jordan and the authorities of Leland Stanford Junior University; their liberal policy, while he was a member of the faculty of that institution, made it possible for him to carry on and complete this work.
February 1, 1910
Just as these volumes are going to press, the editor wishes to express his hearty appreciation of the spirit of cooperation and generous attitude of the Yale University Press, and in particular of its president, Mr. George Parmly Day, in everything connected with the publication of this work. He gratefully acknowledges, also, his indebtedness to the Plimpton Press, for the care and interest taken in the manufacture.