"LIFE IS A BURDEN IN ANY OTHER STATE THAN THAT OF FREEDOM": RARE 1775 REVOLUTIONARY-ERA ISSUE OF THE NEW ENGLAND CHRONICLE, PRINTING AN INSTALLMENT OF THE PRO-AMERICAN ESSAY SERIES "THE CRISIS"
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION). "The Crisis." IN: The New-England Chronicle: or, Essex Gazette. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Printed by Samuel and Ebenezer Hall, in Stoughton Hall, Harvard-College, Vol. VIII. Numb. 375. Sept. 28-Oct. 5, 1775. Folio (10 by 15-1/2 inches), one sheet folded once for four pages. $3750.
A 1775 rarity, originally printed the same day as the Battle of Bunker Hill: an American printing of the 12th installment of "The Crisis": part of a series of political essays published in London defending American liberty and criticizing royal authority.
The present issue reprints the 12th installment of a pro-American publication printed in London entitled "The Crisis." The original weekly, published by T. W. Shaw, ran from January 1775 to September 1776 in 91 issues and was notable for its fierce attacks, not only against Parliament but George III as well. (Note: this series is not to be confused with Thomas Paine's similarly titled series of essays, "The American Crisis" which ran in newspapers beginning in December 1776 – though he very well may have been inspired by the title.)
This installment, subtitled "BLOOD calls for BLOOD," is highly critical not only of Parliament, but of King George III, who had been viewed by American rebels as inherently good, but misled by his ministry: "No tyrant was ever more despotic and cruel than the present sovereign, who disgraces the seat of royalty in the British empire; no court ever more corrupt than his, and yet. O my countrymen, to this merciless and despotic tyrant, and to his wicked and corrupt ministry, you sacrifice your rights, and yield a PEACEABLE submission." Recalling the freedoms secured during the Glorious Revolution, the author asks: "Shall we TAMELY submit tho have those privileges, for which they FOUGHT and FELL, ravished from us by a lawless tribe of men, who calls themselves senators or ministers, and who taking advantage of their price, are laying waste their country, and spreading desolations through the land? Shall it be said in after times, that the year ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FIVE was less glorious than that of SIXTEEN HUNDRED and EIGHTY-EIGHT; and that as the age grew more and more enlightened it became more and more PUSILLANIMOUS. Forbid it Heaven!"
"The axe is now at the root of the tree; the overthrow of the constitution is the great design of the King and his ministers, the open and avowed enemies to the natural rights of mankind, who have already sufficiently proved to the world, that they mean the subversion of the universal right of Christians and of subjects. Let those, my countrymen, who plead for tyrants, submit to their power ; but let us esteem our liberty, religion and property, equally with our lives, every man's birthright by nature; no government ever received a LEGAL authority to abridge or take it away; nor has God vested any single or confederated power in any hands to destroy it; and it is in defence of those glorious privileges, these common rights, I have written this paper; and to preserve them unviolated by the polluted hands of lawless tyrants, I would lay down my life, for life is a burthen in any other state than that of FREEDOM."
A slug at the bottom of the left-hand column, added by the editor of the Chronicle, notes, "'Tis worthy of observation that this CRISIS was printed in London, the Day of the Battle at Bunker's Hill."
In many respects, the language of "The Crisis" anticipated Thomas Paine, who took the argument a step further in "Common Sense," in which he categorically rejected royal authority and denied the right of monarchs to rule. Up to this point, many were reluctant to criticize, let alone question, the authority of the king, who was viewed as a basically good man who was misled by his ministers. Essays like this helped prepare the colonies for the next step, forwarded by Paine: the rejection of monarchy, and the goal of American independence.
Soon after the republication of this essay in American newspapers, word would arrive that George III had declared the American colonies in a state of "open and avowed rebellion" and ordered the military to use their "utmost endeavors to withstand and suppress such rebellion." This measure, combined with Paine's arguments for independence issued in January, 1776, convinced many government critics that a separation from the British Empire was the only logical course of action.
The paper also includes news of the ongoing campaign against Quebec led by General Richard Montgomery and the recall of Lord Dunmore from Virginia. Contemporary owner signature.
Creases, light toning and minor foxing, rough margins, very good condition.