Front Page Titles (by Subject) CXVIII.: William Pierce: Anecdote. 1 - The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 3
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CXVIII.: William Pierce: Anecdote. 1 - Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 3 
The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911). Vol. 3.
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William Pierce: Anecdote.1
When the Convention first opened at Philadelphia, there were a number of propositions brought forward as great leading principles for the new Government to be established for the United States. A copy of these propositions was given to each Member with the injunction to keep everything a profound secret. One morning, by accident, one of the Members dropt his copy of the propositions, which being luckily picked up by General Mifflin was presented to General Washington, our President, who put it in his pocket, After the debates of the Day were over, and the question for adjournment was called for, the General arose from his seat, and previous to his putting the question addressed the Convention in the following manner, —
“I am sorry to find that some one Member of this Body, has been so neglectful of the secrets of the Convention as to drop in the State House a copy of their proceedings, which by accident was picked up and delivered to me this Morning. I must entreat Gentlemen to be more careful, least our transactions get into the News Papers, and disturb the public repose by premature speculations. I know not whose Paper it is, but there it is (throwing it down on the table), let him who owns it take it.” At the same time he bowed, picked up his Hat, and quitted the room with a dignity so severe that every Person seemed alarmed; for my part I was extremely so, for putting my hand in my pocket I missed my copy of the same Paper, but advancing up to the Table my fears soon dissipated; I found it to be the hand writing of another Person. When I went to my lodgings at the Indian Queen, I found my copy in a coat pocket which I had pulled off that Morning. It is something remarkable that no Person ever owned the Paper.
[1 ]American Historical Review, III, 324-325, It is impossible to assign any date to the relation of this anecdote.