"NOTHING CAN BE OF SO MUCH CONSEQUENCE TO US AS LIBERTY": RARE FIRST EDITION OF PRICE'S CIVIL LIBERTY, 1776, A SEMINAL 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. London: Printed for T. Cadell, 1776. Slim octavo, full period-style speckled sheep gilt, red morocco spine label,; pp. [iv], -128.
First edition of Price's powerfully influential British defense of the American revolution, a work of crucial importance in "determining the Americans to declare their independence" (ODNB).
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). This rare first edition, which precedes the first American edition, is reportedly one of only 1000 copies published in London in February 1776 and sold out within three days. With half title, often lacking. Adams 76-118a. Adams, American Independence 224a. Sabin 65452. ESTC T10138. Goldsmiths 11512. Kress 7243. Howes P586. See Sowerby 2994, 3109. Half title with contemporary unclear owner signature dated 1776.
Text very fresh and crisp, beautifully bound.