“NOTHING LESS THAN A DELIBERATE ASSAULT LAUNCHED SURREPTITIOUSLY BY PLOTTERS AGAINST LIBERTY”: RARE EARLY VOLUME OF CONNECTICUT ACTS AND LAWS, WITH COMPREHENSEIVE PRINTINGS OF PARLIAMENTARY STATUTES AND THE COLONY’S REBELLION DURING THE REVOLUTION, INCLUDING THE FIRST YEARS OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
(CONNECTICUT). Acts and Laws Of His Majesty’s English Colony of Connecticut, in New-England, in America. Re-printed and Sold by Thomas and Samuel Green, in New-Haven, and Timothy Green, in New-London, 1769 [i.e. 1782]. Thick folio, contemporary full brown calf, raised bands. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4000.
1769 edition of the Connecticut Acts & Laws, with a printing of the 1662 Royal Charter, sessional Acts and Laws from 1752-68, and first edition sessional Acts from 1769-82. With rare early printings of some of the most controversial pre-Revolutionary parliamentary laws, including several quartering acts, a 1757 duty on tea setting the stage for the incendiary 1773 Tea Act, evidence of revolutionary fervor with the striking removal of the words “Our Sovereign Lord George the Third, King of Great-Britain” from all acts printed after 1775 and, following the Continental Congress’s urging that all states sever all ties to Britain, a printing of Connecticut’s own 1776 declaration of independence.
Much early rebellion in Connecticut and the other colonies centered “on the question of Parliament’s jurisdiction in America… The colonists saw about them, with increasing clarity, not merely mistaken, or even evil, policies violating the principles upon which freedom rested, but what appeared to be evidence of nothing less than a deliberate assault launched surreptitiously by plotters against liberty… This belief transformed the meaning of the colonists’ struggle, and it added an inner accelerator to the movement of opposition” (Bailyn, 94-5). That imprint of an increasingly obstinate British jurisdiction and its profound colonial opposition markedly characterizes this volume. In addition to printings of statutes that offer an intriguing glimpse into colonial life— with acts regulating trade between colonists and Indians, prohibiting the killing of deer, or punishing forgery with three days in the pillory and drunkenness with three hours in the stocks— the Acts narrate the intense tumult of American revolutionary history. In addition to printings of British regulations on the quartering of its soldiers and a series of embargo laws, this volume contains the earliest issue of the May 1775 Act that appeared “in further Addition to an Act, entituled, An Act for Forming and regulating the Militia… for the better Defense of this Colony.” This statute is notably from the same May session in which Connecticut’s Governor called for an authorization “regulating and ordering the Troops… for the Defense of the Colony”— an act understood to be one of the earliest “articles of war” in America’s response to Britain’s three Coercive Acts that punished Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party. The supplementary act printed here reaffirms that extremely rare and unavailable first statute, which was issued “without imprint, probably from fear of consequences, should the British discover its printer” (Williams 181). This compilation of Acts also contains Connecticut’s revision, during the Revolution, of statutes concerning oaths to the crown, and a 1778 regulatory act that speaks to a national crisis in which paper money “issued by Congress and various states had so depreciated that one silver dollar was equal to six of paper, and the cost of living had more than trebled that of 1774” (Williams 182). It is the second edition of revised 1750 Connecticut Acts and Laws (1-262), first issue of the compiled 1768 printing of sessional Acts and Laws from May 1752-May 1768 (pp. 263-336), “always found with the second edition of the 1750 revision” (Evans 10861), and first issue of sessional Acts from January 1779-January 1782 (pages 339-583). With ten-page table preceding text of laws that “includes the October 1750 and October 1751 session laws, forming pages 257-262, which are followed in all known copies with the compilation of session laws, pp. 263-336, printed in 1768” (Evans 6479). Largely printed by Timothy Green, who moved from Massachusetts to “New London in 1714 by invitation of the Connecticut Assembly and until his retirement… remained the colony’s official printer” (Winterich, 39). Mispagination of page 211 without loss; bound without October 1768 session acts (Evans 10862). This edition also contains a printing of Connecticut’s 1662 royal charter, one of only two that granted a colony the power to elect its own governor. Bates 185-91. Evans 10860, 10861, 11215, 11216, 11217, 11217, 11604, 11605, 12015, 12016, 12361, 12362, 12731, 12732, 13207, 13208, 13209, 13871, 13872, 13873, 14688, 14689, 14690, 14691, 14692, 14693, 15258, 15259, 15260, 15261, 15760, 15761, 15762, 15763, 16231, 16232, 16233, 16234, 16734, 16735, 16736, 17116, 17117, 11718, 17119, 17493. See Evans 6653, 6830, 6831, 6981, 6982, 7173, 7174, 7393, 7394, 7395, 7636, 7637, 7638, 7639, 7877, 8105, 8326, 8564, 8566, 8567, 8820, 8821, 9092, 9093, 9094, 9365, 9366, 9618, 9619, 9934, 9935, 10265, 10266, 10586, 10587, 10588, 10859. Harvard Law Catalogue, 444. Tower 67, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83. See Tower 61-68. Not in Sabin. Contemporary owner inscription and signature dated 1782 above title page; unobtrusive contemporary manuscript notations in ten-page table.
Light scattered foxing, mild creasing to several preliminaries; slight rubbing, mild dampstaining and edge-wear to contemporary calf. A highly desirable, near-fine copy.