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title:“Timothy Pickering to John Lowell”
authors:Timothy Pickering
date written:1828-1-14

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retrieved:Aug. 3, 2021, 12:02 p.m. UTC

Pickering, Timothy. "Letter to John Lowell." Supplement to Max Farrand's The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Ed. James H. Hutson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. 317. Print.
Autograph Letter Signed, Massachussetts Historical Society

Timothy Pickering to John Lowell (January 14, 1828)

. . . James Wilson (afterwards Judge Wilson) was a member of the National Convention by whom the Constitution was formed. In conversation with him, above thirty years ago, he told me, that after the entire instrument had been agreed on, in its existing form, the final revision of it was committed to him in regard to grammatical accuracy or correctness of style (such is the impression in my memory); certainly not to introduce a single idea.1 This philological office comprehended, of course, what related to punctuation: but whether in the instance in question, Wilson found a semicolon after excises, or substituted it in place of a comma, or found it without any marked pause can never be known. Whether punctuation ought ever to govern the construction of any writing, it does not belong to me to decide; but it certainly gives facility to an understanding of its meaning. . . .

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