Printed Material
Page: Title

The Federal Chariot and Grand Constitution

Page: Title | 2
Date: 1788
Publisher: Bickerstaff
About this artifact

This image celebrating the creation of the new Federal Constitution was included in Bickerstaff's Boston Almanack for 1788, printed by Boston printer Ezekiel Russell. "Bickerstaff" was a pseudonym first used by the famous English satirist, Jonathan Swift, who published an almanac in 1708 to poke fun at an English astrologer. The American "Bickerstaff" was Benjamin West of Providence, RI, who began publishing almanacs under that name in the 1760s. As the image suggests, Ezekiel Russell strongly supported ratification of the Constitution by the states. To make sure readers understood the symbolism and the characters, Russell also included the following explanation: "The Frontispiece represents the truly patriotick Washington and Franklin, triumphantly seated in the Federal Chariot drawn by 13 Freemen, figurative of the happy Union now forming by these States.--The heroick Washington holds in his hand the grand Fabrick of American Independence, the Federal Constitution, offering it with paternal affection to his freeborn brothers the Sons of Columbia.--That staunch Friend and Guardian of the Civil and Religious Rights of Mankind, the sagacious and philosophick Franklin, sits attentive with Spectacles on, having just scan'd over the Glorious Work, which will prove the political Salvation of his Country; Holding A Staff, on which is affixed a Cap, illusive of American Freedom, if the Constitution is adopted.--The Goddess of Fame flying with a trumpet in her hand, spreading the glad Tidings of Union through the States, and sounds a Peal to the immortal Honour of that worthy and disinterested Band of Patriots and Heroes, the 39 Members of the late Federal Convention, who, with such true Wisdom, sound Judgment and unbiased Patriotism, framed the present Constitution; whose Names, we trust, will be handed down to ages yet unborn, with the highest Veneration and Respect, by every real Friend to his Country, for their unshaken Zeal in the Cause of American Freedom.--The Sun, entirely clear off the Horizon, shines resplendently on the American Federal Union, denoting that every ray of light has now burst forth, and beautifully illumes the whole United Continent of America."

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Courtesy American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA