Mexico City: Imprenta a Cargo de Martin Rivera, 1823. ,66pp. Small octavo. Modern red calf, front board gilt lettered; original plain paper wrappers bound in. Minor rubbing to corners and spine ends. Contemporary gift inscription on front wrapper. Light toning and an occasional, small fox mark; light tide line at top edge. About very good. Item #1925
A very scarce Mexican imprint that comprises the first Mexican edition of the United States Constitution, accompanied by two important addresses by George Washington. The present work was printed in 1823, following the overthrow of Agustin de Iturbide, as Mexico attempted to establish itself as a republic. The federal Mexican Constitution would be completed and ratified the following year, and this edition was clearly published as a reference for its drafters and other interested parties.
The text of the Constitution, translated into Spanish, and its Amendments, here curiously titled "Correcciones," occupies the final twenty-five pages of the work. Also included is the text of an Amendment prohibiting American citizens from holding foreign titles of nobility, which passed the House and Senate in 1810 but was never ratified by the states. The Constitution is preceded by translations of George Washington's 1783 farewell to the Continental Army following the Revolutionary War and his 1796 Farewell Address to the nation at the end of his second term as President. Washington's resignations from the two most powerful positions of the early United States and his statements accompanying them would have been of particular interest to the framers of Mexico's intended republic, given the self-proclamation of emperorship by Iturbide, their primary independence leader, following the Treaty of Cordoba that freed Mexico from Spain in 1821.
The brief introduction makes clear the estimation for the document held by the publishers and its potential usefulness as a framework for the Mexican Constitution. It reads, in part:
"Algunos hablan de confederacion y federalismo sin siquiera tener nocion vaga de las palabras: estas incluven ideas verdaderamente genericas, y en las que se contienen especies y graduaciones que es preciso fijar con exactitud.... Una de estas especies o graduaciones està suficientemente determinada en la ultima Constitucion de los Estados-Unidos, y por lo tanto se ha creido utilisimo el reimprimirla, con el objeto de que repartidos por todas las provincias los ejemplares, se actuen los ciudadanos de los principos sobre que se funda, y de la fuerza del lazo con que se estrecharon aquellos Estados que antes de su emancipacion eran independientes y no componian un todo tan homogeneo y compacto como el nuestro...."
A fascinating edition of the United States Constitution, important for its influence on the formation of a republic in newly independent Mexico, and rare -- OCLC locates fewer than ten copies, and only one copy appears in available auction records over the past century.