Sermon on the Present Situation

AMERICAN REVOLUTION   |   William SMITH

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“A STIRRING CALL TO LIBERTY”: SCARCE 1775 ENGLISH EDITION OF SMITH’S 1775 REVOLUTIONARY SERMON ON THE PRESENT SITUATION OF AMERICAN AFFAIRS

(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) SMITH, William. A Sermon on the Present Situation of American Affairs. Preached in Christ-Church, June 23, 1775. Philadelphia Printed: London Re-Printed, A Second Time: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1775. Slim octavo restitched, later plain wrappers; pp. (2), (iv), (1), 2-32.

First English edition, scarce second printing issued the same year as the first American edition, of Smith’s Sermon, delivered only two months after Lexington and Concord, citing loyalty to Britain while asserting “the people of this country know their rights and will not consent to a passive surrender of them.”

"During the Stamp Act crisis, Smith privately condemned the measure and publicly praised those who defended colonial liberty… In 1775 his Sermon on the Present Situation offered an elaborate model for imperial reconciliation based on 'terms upon which this country can be perpetually united to the parent state" (ANB). Delivered June 23, 1775, not long after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, this "was a stirring call to liberty… Smith insisted 'that our rightful sovereign has nowhere more loyal subjects.' At the same time, he maintained that 'the people of this country know their rights,' which they held by 'a plain original contract, entitling us to all the natural and improvable advantages of our situation… America as a continent, a divinely chosen refuge for freedom in a world dominated by tyranny—all the basic ideas of Thomas Paine's Common Sense are here except the deduction that independence was the logical conclusion… [Smith] rested his case largely on the Lockean argument that occupation and development of the land gave Americans the natural right to rule themselves" (Pencak, Pennsylvania's Revolution, 99). Smith is noted for his "intellectually consistent and candid contribution to the revolutionary debate" (ANB). First English edition, second printing using "substantially the same setting of type" as the same year's first printing (Adams, American Independence 196e): both printings preceded by the same year's first American edition. Without initial blank. Adams 75-129e. Sabin 84655. Howes S697. See ESTC N21212; 21213.

Text generally fresh with a few marginal paper repairs.

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