The United States Constitution is more than just an ordinary document, it is the foundation wherein the nation was built. Essentially, it is a way to ensure that people making decisions on behalf of the public represent the opinions of those citizens as fairly and justly as possible. It’s an aspect of a deliberate system of checks and balances designed to ensure that people in power are held responsible for their actions.
People often consider the Constitution a masterpiece of writing, and although there is a copy on display in Washington, many people don’t know that there are more copies available, 13 in number – one for each of the original colonies to ratify. There was no photocopying in those days, so every one of them was handwritten, but they are still considered official documents.
Several copies have been lost over the years. In 2021, a copy of the book was found and was auctioned by Sotheby’s. This copy doesn’t belong to a private collection but was bought almost immediately by an Internet collective known as ConstitutionDAO for $5 million. This is an impressive accomplishment that demonstrates online collective organizing’s financial potential
The Constitution and the Internet
You will need some form of cryptocurrency to join a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). Digital funds are exchanged for tokens, which in turn grants owners voting power within the group. You operate with a more powerful voice when you’re able to buy more tokens. To enter the ConstitutionDAO conversation at all, Forbes revealed that it cost approximately a million tokens or $4600.
ConstitutionDAO is a crypto investor collective that attempted to buy a rare copy of the United States Constitution using cryptocurrency. One of the above 13 original copies came up for auction for the first time in more than thirty years, and it was the first time this particular copy had been offered for auction.
According to their website’s frequently asked questions page, the organization wanted to find an esteemed partner to display the document publicly. They asked for the expertise of someone who could appropriately store, protect, and maintain this most precious work of art. Additionally, ConstitutionDAO requested that any partner chosen offer it to the public at no cost and cover all costs associated with it.
With more than $40 million raised, ConstitutionDAO has demonstrated the financial potential of collective organizing online. However, it wasn’t enough. A private collector purchased the document for $43.2 million, more than double Sotheby’s original estimate.
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Derivatives from the Organized Collective
More than 17,000 people donated to ConstitutionDAO with a median donation of $206.26. According to a statement on their main page, a significant portion of these was made from cryptocurrency wallets for the first time. However, Sotheby’s had never worked with a DAO community before, so there were a variety of questions that were difficult to answer.
The origins of the group may have also contributed to the trouble. A series of semi-comical tweet exchanges started the whole thing a week before the auction. Even though the auction was still five days away, history had already been made.
All members of a DAO are recorded in the blockchain, which is a type of digital ledger that is publicly accessible and cannot be altered. Members rarely meet in the same room at the same time; instead, all efforts were coordinated via various messaging apps.
People who donate to ConstitutionDAO may receive a refund, minus specific fees if they so choose – and this is to ConstitutionDAO. If they had won the auction, they would submit a proposal about what they would do with the money to their community, which would then vote on it. If the collective had won the rare Constitution, the 17,000-plus people would not have been able to claim ownership.
The ConstitutionDAO site made it clear that donors would receive a governance token instead of fractionalized ownership. According to the organization’s leadership, the fractionalized ownership included advising on where to ultimately store and display the Constitution (essentially voting rights), as well as how to display it. Additionally, those who donated would have an opportunity to voice their opinions on “the mission and values of Constitution DAO.
Despite the loss of the Constitutional bid, it still offers a glimpse of bigger things to come. DAOs are particularly appealing to young people, especially to those who have successfully navigated the ever-changing world of cryptocurrency.
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