2023 FLCHE Conference: Images and Primary Sources


Primary Sources and Images

We are pleased to be presenting the following PowerPoint presentation on July 29 to the Florida Council for History Education: The Constitution’s Cover Letter.

Here is a link to the PowerPoint presentation about the Cover Letter: https://www.statutesandstories.com/blog_html/flche-2023-conference/

The PowerPoint is based on the following articles on Statutesandstories.com:

Copied below are links to primary sources for educators and students. Teachers across all grade levels should feel free to use these materials as they see fit, as all of these resources are in the public domain:

Links to Correspondence and Essays

Cover Letter dated 17 September 1787, from George Washington to Congress transmitting the Constitution 

Federalist 62  by James Madison, quoting from the Cover Letter 

Letter from Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to Matthew Ridley discussing the Cover Letter, dated 29 September 1787 

 A Landholder VII essay by Oliver Ellsworth discussing the Cover Letter, dated 17 December 1787

Transcript of the Debates at the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention on 28 November 1788, top of page 419, quoting Thomas McKean, Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court describing the “excellent letter which accompanies the proposed system”

Transcript of the Debates at the North Carolina Ratification Convention on 24 July 1788, top of page 247, quoting William Davie, describing the Cover Letter

A Marylander essay by Otho Holland Williams describing the “circular letter accompanying the proposed plan” on page 436, dated 25 March 1788 

Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson’s famous speech at a public meeting in Philadelphia quoting from the Cover Letter and indicating that “the letter which accompanies this Constitution, must strike every person with the utmost force.” 

Other George Washington letters discussing the Constitution


Links to resources and teaching materials

iCivics resources for teaching about the Cover Letter and teacher guide

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History 


Images of the Cover Letter and related materials

Copied below is the Cover Letter published with the Acts of the First Congress

A copy of the cover letter is contained in the printed Acts of the First Congress by Childs and Swaine, published in 1789


Copied below is the first newspaper to print the Constitution, the Pennsylvania Packet, with the Cover Letter printed below the Constitution 


Copied below is a “broadside” copy of the Cover Letter printed in Albany prior to the New York Ratification Convention in 1788. Note that the Cover Letter is printed above the Constitution with George Washington’s name in bold font.


Copied below is the Resolution adopted by Congress on 28 September 1787 unanimously agreeing to send the Constitution and the Cover Letter to the states for ratification






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *