“NOTHING CAN BE OF SO MUCH CONSEQUENCE TO US AS LIBERTY”: PRICE’S CIVIL LIBERTY, 1776, A KEY INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) PRICE, Richard. Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, The Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War in America. Dublin: Printed for J. Exshaw, et al., 1776. 12mo (4 by 6-3/4 inches), original blue-gray paper boards rebacked in calf-gilt, red morocco spine label; pp. [xii], -179. $750.
Second Dublin edition, issued the same year as the outbreak of the American Revolution, and the London first edition of Price’s powerfully influential British defense of the American cause, precedes the first American edition, a work of crucial importance in “determining the Americans to declare their independence” (DNB), very scarce in original boards.
A close friend of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Richard Price "was the most influential British advocate of American independence" (Howes P586). His Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty stands as the most important writing by an Englishman sympathetic to the American cause, for "the encouragement derived from this book had no inconsiderable share in determining the Americans to declare their independence" (DNB). Here Price presents "four different kinds of liberty—physical, moral, religious and civil—arguing that the central idea running through them all is self-government…. His enthusiasm for the American Revolution derived from his seeing it as the expression of these ideas" (Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 678). Price foresees that America will establish "a plan of government, and a growing power that shall astonish the world, and under which every subject of human enquiry shall be open to free discussion, and the friends of Liberty, in every quarter of the globe, find a safe retreat from civil and spiritual tyranny." This powerful work had a significant effect on America's resolve to secure self-government. In 1778 Price was offered the singular honor of United States citizenship, and "in recognition of his services in the cause of liberty, Dr. Price was presented with the freedom of the city of London" (DNB). Second Dublin edition, issued the same year as London first edition. Precedes the first American edition. Stated "Eighth Edition." With rarely found half title. As issued without folding table. Adams 76-118t. Adams, American Independence 224s. ESTC 12970. Howes P586. See Adams 76-118a; Adams, American Independence 224a, 224t; Sabin 65452; Kress 7243; Goldsmiths 11512; Sowerby 2994, 3109. Library Company of Philadelphia bookplate with deaccession notation.
Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, tiny bit of faint occasional marginal dampstaining, light edge-wear, minor dampstaining to boards. An extremely good copy, scarce in original boards.