Without This Woman, America Might Not Have a Bill of Rights

You didn’t log on to the internet or switch on cable television in 1788 Boston to obtain breaking news of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

You hiked to the nearest tavern or coffeehouse to pick up a copy of the latest newspaper to learn what—in those days of rudimentary communication—passed for the latest news.

When the latest missive on the new Constitution came out in 1788, Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern would have been buzzing.

“Did you see this?” one Bostonian, a pro-Constitution Federalist, demanded as he waved a freshly printed pamphlet to catch the attention of a friend at the next table, who nearly spilled his mug of ale.

“‘Observations on the New Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions,’ they call it, and it’s just outrageous. It dares to claim we need something called a ‘bill of rights’ in our new Constitution! More confounded delays! Hang it all—we must adopt our new Constitution now! Blasted idlers! Pernicious! Pernicious!”

The other Federalists in the tavern murmured their assent. But none among them knew the identity of the author behind “Observations on the New Constitution.” All they knew was the pseudonym under which it had been printed: “A Columbian Patriot.”


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