Rare broadside mocking the Jeffersonian Republicans

[Anonymous,] LIBERTY! EQUALITY! At a Convention of Republicans, styling themselves “The Upper House of Delegates from ninety-seven towns in Connecticut,” holden in the Council-Chamber in New-Haven, on the 29th day of August, 1804, Resolved… [New Haven, 1804.]
Broadside, 2 columns of letterpress plus headlines and ornamental border. Printed area 16 ½”h x 8 ½”w, uncolored.
$3,900

A ludicrous constitution for the state of Connecticut, mockingly attributed to the Jeffersonian Republicans and published by an unnamed Federalist in the run-up to the 1804 election. Only the third example located.

On August 29, 1804 a general meeting of Republican delegates from 97 Connecticut towns was held in New Haven. The meeting was the result of a general feeling within the party that it was time to address the people of Connecticut about a new constitution (At this time the state was still operating under the old colonial charter granted by Charles II in 1662!) On July 30th the General Committee had issued a statement that “many very respectable Republicans are of the opinion that it is high time to speak to the citizens of Connecticut plainly and explicitly on the subject of forming a constitution: but this ought not to be done without approbation of the party.”

The meeting was held behind closed doors and a series of resolutions were passed that outlined the principles upon which the new constitution ought to be founded.

“It was declared, as “the unanimous opinion of this meeting, that the people of this State are at present without a Constitution of civil government,” and it was thereupon resolves, “that it is expedient to take measures preparatory to the formation of a Constitution, and that a committee be appointed to draft an Address to the People of this State, on that subject.” The committee reported an address, which was accepted, and ten thousand copies were ordered to be printed and distributed.” (Trumbull, Historical Notes on the Constitution of Connecticut, pp. 27-28)

Offered here is a broadside by an unnamed Federalist, parodying the Republican document. Under the stirring title “Liberty! Equality!” it announces that:

“…we are inspired with a patriotic zeal to revolutionize the present state of things, and introduce the happy period, when the true principles of Republicanism shall spread their benign influence through the universe…. Now then we rouse; we break through every barrier; and though superstition, though religion and priest-craft oppose us, triumphing over their feeble efforts, we humbly propose these measures which may contribute to the accomplishment of our grand design.”

The proposed Constitution includes four Articles (some with many Sections) and seven Resolves, including such doozies as these:

“ARTICLE I…. Sec. 2. The Executive power shall be vested in three Consuls to be chosen for life by the President of the United States; provided he be Republican, if not, by the Sovereign People.”

 

“ARTICLE IV. Sec. 1. The First Consul, if Republican, shall receive for his services annually 25,000 dollars; if not Republican 1,000 dollars.”

 

“ARTICLE V…. Sec. 5. As all men are born with free and unalienable rights, no marriage contract shall be valid. Freedom is the birth-right of man, consequently promiscuous concubinage is a characteristic of freedom.”

In the election later that year, the Jeffersonian Republicans lost heavily, suggesting that the people of Connecticut were not yet ready for a new Constitution.

References
Shaw Shoemaker #6150. OCLC 54198027 (Yale), 702342007 (Yale again), and 50000717 (Connecticut Historical Society and American Antiquarian Society, though the AAS catalog describes its copy as a “negative photostat” of the Yale impression). Background from James Hammond Trumbull, Historical Notes on the Constitutions of Connecticut, 1639-1818. In a footnote to page 28 Trumbull notes the existence of our broadside and that it is “apparently from “Sidney’s Press,” New Haven.”

Condition

Small loss in title affecting part of the initial “L,” wear along old folds (with a few mends), affecting a few letters in places but nowhere the sense of the text. Minor marginal soiling and staining.