BYU graduate may have found draft of U.S. Constitution
society's records, the page Toler believes is a third draft of the
Constitution has been filed away in a box marked simply "James Wilson:
Volume Two" since at least 1970. Toler suspects the document has been
in that box since it was first transcribed by Yale scholar Max Farrand
"It was just sitting there, forgotten," Toler said.
to Farrand's writings, in 1911, he connected the three-paragraph
introduction on the back of Wilson's first draft to a document titled
"The Continuation of the Scheme," Toler said. The paper Toler found is
also called "The Continuation of the Scheme."
She doesn't believe it's a coincidence.
Not everyone, however, is as excited.
pretty skeptical," said Andrew Shankman, an associate professor of
history at Rutgers University in New Jersey, shortly after examining
the paper. "It doesn't appear to fit with the known drafts of the
said, the numbering system between the three-paragraph fragment and
"The Continuation of the Scheme" don't seem to match up, he said. The
style is less formal than Wilson's other drafts.
acknowledged the inconsistent style between drafts but attributed the
differences to a "more relaxed, scatterbrained" Wilson, she said.
is significant because James Wilson was always polished in front of
others," Toler said. "To me, the way these documents were written
demonstrates that he worked alone on this project for some time. These
are his raw thoughts."
Thursday, Shankman was the only established scholar who had evaluated
Toler's claims. The historical society is in the process of obtaining a
more thorough evaluation.
Arnold, senior director of the library and collections at the
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, denied that the document had ever
been lost. It was never recognized as a legitimate draft of the
Constitution, he said, so it was kept in a file of Wilson's notes from
the Constitutional Convention.
"It was right where it should have been," he said. "In a box labeled 'James Wilson.'"
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