Error in Many Versions of the United States Constitution

No, really (or so it seems to me). I’ve just noticed that — according to what I take to be the original handwritten copy of the Constitution, posted at the National Archives — the Archives’ official transcript, as well as the Commission on the Bicentennial, Cato, and Heritage pocket reprints, include a mistranscription of the original.

The Date Clause of Article VII mentions the date the Constitution was signed, and also gives the year as counted from “the Independence of the United States of America” (perhaps an echo of the British legal practice of using regnal years?). Or so say the print and online versions; the handwritten text actually says “Independance” (emphasis added). Check it and see.

Incidentally, a search through Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online database, selecting only the “Law” category and the date range 1775-1799, yields 65 hits for “independance” and 518 for “independence,” so “independance” was either a variant spelling or an unusually common error, even in presumably edited printed text.

The Archives transcript also says “Done in Convention …” where the original says “done in Convention …” But other copies of the constitution seem to faithfully use the lower-case “done.”

The LexisNexis pocket version, by the way, omits the Date Clause altogether.

UPDATE: I talked to the National Archives, and they seem to agree with me that this should be corrected in their official transcript.

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