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First-Printing of U.S. Constitution Displayed on Election Day

Events, Lifestyle

U.S. Constitution on an American Flag. | Image by M. Phillips

A press release announced that a first-printing of the U.S. Constitution will be displayed on November 2 at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, located at 1515 Young Street in Dallas. It will be available to the public for viewing from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on the seventh floor in the Dallas History and Archives division.

This U.S. Constitution will be shown next to the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, which is a permanent exhibit within the Dallas History and Archives division.

There are only eleven copies of the first printing of the U.S. Constitution remaining out of the five hundred that were printed for the 1787 Constitutional Convention. The Declaration of Independence that the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library displays is one of the twenty-six copies that remain, and it is the only one displayed west of the Mississippi River.

The first-printing U.S. Constitution that can be viewed today is a “privately-owned official first-printing of the final official Constitution,” according to the press release. Sotheby’s will be auctioning it off on November 18. They are expecting to see it sold for approximately $20 million. The proceeds will be going to the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation, “an organization dedicated to further the understanding of democracy.”

The J. Erik Jonsson Central Library has other permanent exhibits in the Dallas History and Archives division, besides the first printing of the Declaration of Independence. The Scene on the Brazos by Frank Reaugh can also be viewed by the public.

In 1876, Frank Reaugh traveled with his parents from Jacksonville, Illinois, to Terrell, Texas. During his travels, he sketched the scenes around him. He went to school at St. Louis School of Fine Arts and Academie Julian in Paris.

Reaugh had an eye and talent for painting landscapes and animals that roamed the Southwest. The Texas longhorn was a favorite of his, which is why people have called him the “Painter of the Longhorn.”

He believed that artwork should be available for the public to view, so in 1890, while living in Oak Cliff, “he worked with civic and cultural leaders to create forums for the public display of art.”

The Carnegie Library was established in 1901. Officials from the library allowed Reaugh’s idea after convincing them to display art for the public to view. They created the Art Room, and Reaugh was the one who donated the first public artwork for the room, called Scene on the Brazos.

The website of the Dallas Public Library states, “The Art Room was to display works from various artists in a variety of media, with the expressed purpose of making art accessible and free to the public.”

Residents can view the first printing of the U.S. Constitution at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library on Tuesday, November 2nd, anytime between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. The first printing of the Declaration of Independence and the Scene on the Brazos are permanent exhibits, among many other items to explore within the library.

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