Political Tracts and Speeches


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(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) BURKE, Edmund. The Political Tracts and Speeches. Dublin: Printed for W. Whitestone, et al., 1777. Octavo, period-style full polished brown calf gilt, red morocco spine label; pp. [i-viii], [1], 2-440.

First edition of this important 1777 collection of six major works by Burke, prominently featuring printings of key speeches on the American colonies and Revolution, including his 1774 speech On America Taxation delivered to Parliament shortly after the Boston Tea Party, his warning against punitive taxation in his 1775 Resolutions for Conciliation—"more universally admired than any other of Burke's productions"—and much more.

Edmund Burke, who was first elected to the British Parliament in 1765, the year of the Stamp Act, was "one of the greatest Parliamentary orators of all time" (Yolton I:143). Prominently featured here is Burke's landmark speech On American Taxation, delivered before Parliament on April 19, 1774, only months after the Boston Tea Party. With striking eloquence, Burke urges sympathy for the American colonies, and proclaims "Do not burden them by taxes… Tyranny is a poor provider" (89-94). Britain would not desist, however, and by September the Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia. The following March Burke again spoke to Parliament as Revolution neared, and this volume continues with his Resolutions for Conciliation with the Colonies: a work "more universally admired than any other of Burke's productions" (Britanica). Here Burke warns that if Britain continues its punitive taxation: "Instead of a standing revenue, you will therefore have a perpetual quarrel." He then eloquently reminds his countrymen that Britain's greatest strength stems from its "sovereign authority… as the sanctuary of liberty… Deny [Americans] this participation in freedom, and you break that sole bond" (435).

Also featured are Burke's Observations on a Late State of the Nation (1769), which contains "frequent discussions of the American colonies" (Adams 69-9a); Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770), which examines "the effect of the current state of affairs in the colonies and the colonists' growing feeling of independence" (Adams 70-6a); Speech[es] at his Arrival at Bristol (1774), in which Burke, especially in his October 13, 1774 Speech, "addresses himself to American problems" (Adams 74-15a). These important works elucidate Burke's core position in the debate over American independence and affirm his status as "a political philosopher of signal importance and originality" (Encyclopedia of Philosophy). First edition. Complete with half titles. Copies have been found with letterpress title page (this copy) or with engraved vignette title page, no priority established. Todd 27. Adams 77-19.1b. See Adams 77-19a. Observations (1769): see Todd 16a; Sabin 56488; Thoughts (1770): see Todd 17a; Sabin 9303; Adams, American Independence 156a; Speech on American Taxation (1775): see Todd 24a; Adams 75-16a; Sabin 9295; Speech[es] at his Arrival at Bristol(1774): see Todd 23a; Adams 75-15b; Sabin 9302; Conciliation (1775): see Todd 25a; Adams 75-16a; Adams, American Independence 157a; Sabin 9296.

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