Virtually every copy of the Constitution published within living memory is a copy of the parchment Constitution signed by the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention. Until the mid-nineteenth century, however, few had ever seen the text in that form. It was two printed versions of the text that were reprinted during the ratification campaign, and it was one of those printed versions that served as the basis for the "correct Copy" of the Constitution included in the session laws of 1789 by order of Congress. This site reproduces those neglected forms of the text alongside the more famous parchment with which constitutionally literate Americans are now so familiar:
This site is a companion to my paper "How Different Are the Early Versions of the United States Constitution? An Examination," which appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of the Green Bag (20 Green Bag 2d 163). See the paper for a discussion of the variants, and the textual notes below for more information on these transcriptions. For historical information on the four texts, see the classic essays of Denys P. Myers (11 Green Bag 2d 217) and Akhil Reed Amar (97 Yale Law Journal 281). Myers and Amar both argue that C rather than P should be regarded as the canonical text of the Constitution. For the reasons given in my essay, I am not convinced that any text has a uniquely good claim to be the true form of the Constitution, but their arguments are well worth hearing.
PS. Although my purpose in creating this site was to resurrect the early printed forms of the text, I know that most people will continue to be interested chiefly in the parchment and the amendments. You can cite them and help call attention to the existence of the other texts by linking to this site's transcriptions of P and A.