Letter to Edmund Burke... in Answer to His Printed Speech

AMERICAN REVOLUTION   |   Edmund BURKE   |   Josiah TUCKER

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Letter to Edmund Burke... in Answer to His Printed Speech
Letter to Edmund Burke... in Answer to His Printed Speech

"THEY ARE NOW MR. LOCKE'S DISCIPLES": JOSIAH TUCKER'S PRESCIENT 1775 RESPONSE TO EDMUND BURKE'S ATTACK REGARDING THE AMERICAN COLONIES AND THEIR IMMINENT REBELLION

(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) (BURKE, Edmund) TUCKER, Josiah. A Letter to Edmund Burke, Esq;Member of Parliament for the City of Bristol, and Agent for the Colony of New York, &c, In Answer to His Printed Speech, Said to Be Spoken in the House of Commons on the Twenty-second of March, 1775. Second Edition, Corrected. Gloucester: R. Raikes, 1775. Slim octavo, modern half brown calf and marbled boards, raised bands, gilt-lettered spine; pp. (1)-58 (2). $1600.

Second edition, issued the same year as the first, of Josiah Tucker's impassioned and insightful response to Edmund Burke's famous speech of March 22, 1775, in which Burke urged reconciliation with the colonies—a course the prescient economist Tucker believed both foolish and fruitless, as he foresaw that the Americans' "rapid economic growth and dislike of regulation would… eventually lead them to separate from Britain through self-interest."

"On 22 March 1775 Tucker's view of America was attacked in a speech by Edmund Burke, the recently elected MP for Bristol… In turn Tucker attacked as ridiculous Burke's plan to allow the colonies to regulate themselves within the empire. His Letter to Edmund Burke (1775) was the beginning of a systematic attack on the opinions of the friends of the American revolutionaries and the radical element within British politics… Tucker's developing attitude to the American colonies was motivated neither by a belief in free trade nor by any sympathy for the Americans themselves, a people he came to see as grasping and ungrateful. Their rapid economic growth and dislike of regulation would, he believed, eventually lead them to separate from Britain through self-interest. He argued that all colonies historically had their date of independence and, concerned that their radical political ideas would eventually infect Britain, he advocated as early as 1766 the separation of Britain and her American colonies" (ODNB).

"Convinced as he was that the Americans employed Lockean ideas of liberty solely in order to subvert British authority" (Rashid, 459), Tucker asserts in this tract that Americans "are now Mr. Locke's disciples" and argues that given the "manner the Americans pretend to understand him… they would necessarily unhinge, and destroy every Government upon Earth" (page 11). "Tucker believed that English forms of liberty depended on aristocratic rule and strong sense of community. He recognized that American traditions were different, grounded as they were in Puritan dissent, and he far preferred to let the colonies go than abandon the interlocking nature of English government." Insisting that "international trade was beneficial to all nations involved," his writings on the rebellious Americans sought to assure "the British public that the exchange of British manufacturing goods for American resources would continue whether America remained in the empire or not… Tucker was not prepared to salvage the colonies in order to preside over the liquidation of the British political structure" (Condon, Americanization of Benjamin Franklin).

To historian Salim Rashid, "it was not Tom Paine, but the Rev. Josiah Tucker who provided the first closely reasoned argument for American Independence… as early as 1766, before the Americans themselves had considered this eventuality." While "Tucker analyzed the American conflict more accurately than his contemporaries… so different were his views from all those around him that he has been noted… a 'visionary' (Trevelyan), or a 'fanatic' (Clark)" (Rashid, 439). Tucker also points out the irony of colonial claims of jeopardized liberty, when the colonists themselves own "vast multitudes of slaves." First revised and "corrected" edition, stated "Second Edition" preceded by same year's first edition. With woodcut-engraved initials, head- and tailpieces. Bound with rear advertisement leaf. Adams, American Controversy 75-145b. Sabin 97353. Howe T387. Goldsmiths' 11302.

Just a touch of dust soiling to title page. An attractively bound copy in fine condition.

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