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DAO Forms to Buy Original Print of the US Constitution for $20 Million

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A rocky relationship with US regulators hasn’t dampened the web3 movement’s American patriotism. 

Last Thursday, a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) was formed to buy one of eleven remaining first prints of the United States Constitution. Sotheby’s will facilitate the auction and estimates that the document will go for between $15M and $20M.

ConstitutionDAO has raised 902 ETH ($4.1M), as of Nov. 15 to purchase the document, which was printed in 1787.

The auction will go live on Nov. 18. If successful, the project will have crowdfunded what’s likely to be an eight-figure purchase in just a week.

What’s drawn so much excitement from the web3 crowd? It’s about symbolism and sending a message. “Many of us were drawn to this project because we felt it was a great way to showcase the capabilities of web3,” Jonah Erlich, a core contributor to ConstitutionDAO told The Defiant. 

Image source: youngmoney

Fractionalized Ownership

If the DAO wins the auction, owners will gain fractional ownership of the document, giving them pro-rata governance control over where it will be stored and how it will be preserved. If ConstitutionDAO fails to acquire the document, users will get their ETH back. 

According to David Silverman, another core contributor at ConstitutionDAO, the project is in contact with numerous museums and organizations about displaying the document, but the final destination will be up to the people who contributed funds towards the purchase. 

ConstitutionDAO is using Juicebox, a community funding tool, to raise the funds. Juicebox allows users to attach a message to their contribution and some are taking the opportunity to celebrate American values.

“First gen immigrant from Indonesia,” said one contributor. “We are taking the power back. Onwards to being intergalactic species.”

“I love that my first introduction to the world of crypto is due to this noble goal. Let’s do it,” said another

Power to the People

Indeed, it appears that ConstitutionDAO’s efforts are succeeding in educating the broader public on web3 values, as well as celebrating those values by coming together across the programmable substrate that is the blockchain, to make a collective purchase that would otherwise be impossible save for only the wealthiest individuals. 

“The Constitution’s ‘We the People’ is aligned with the values of web3 so we loved the idea of making the people’s document community-owned,” Erlich said. “We hope this project shows that we now have the ability to better coordinate large groups of people to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.”

The US constitution is the oldest written constitution in use today and all other verified copies of the original are owned by institutions, making ConstitutionDAO’s target the last one owned by a private individual. Proceeds from the sale will go to a charitable foundation geared towards furthering the public’s understanding of democracy.

In all, ConstitutionDAO represents an almost recursive effort in using governance tools to purchase an original print of one of the most important documents in the world in terms of establishing a government’s responsibilities.

“While the constitution was written with the best of intentions (i hope), it has been in the hands of a small elite group of people since its inception,” Diana Chen, who has contributed to marketing efforts for ConstitutionDAO, told The Defiant.

 “ConstitutionDAO trying to buy the last remaining privately owned copy and fractionalizing that for contributors is about as ‘for the people’ as I’ve seen our government get.”

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