Address to the Congress of the United States

Charles Brockden BROWN

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“WE ARE MELTED DOWN INTO ONE MASS, AND THE VARIOUS PARTS OF THE NATION MAY TRADE WITH EACH OTHER FREELY AND INTIMATELY”: BROWN’S 1809 ADDRESS TO THE CONGRESS ON THE TRADE EMBARGO

BROWN, Charles Brockden. An Address to the Congress of the United States, on the Utility and Justice of Restrictions upon Foreign Commerce… and the Future Prospects of America. Philadelphia: C. & A. Conrad, 1809. Slim octavo, later half brown morocco, marbled boards. $1100.

First edition of Brown’s impassioned plea to the United States Congress to lift the disastrous Embargo Act of 1807.

Caught up in the Napoleonic Wars, the British and French navies in 1806 intensified their hostilities not only against each other, but also against American seamen. “At Jefferson’s request, Congress passed the Embargo Act of 1807, forbidding the departure from American ports of both American and foreign vessels, except those American ships engaged in the coastwise trade. The Embargo proved more injurious to the United States than to its intended victims, France and England” (Cochran and Andrews, 992). Among those Americans adversely affected by the 1807 embargo was author Charles Brockden Brown, “the first person in the United States to make authorship his principal profession” (DAB). Best known as the author of Wieland whose gothic fiction anticipated Irving, Poe and Hawthorne, Brown also worked as a partner in his family's mercantile firm. Losses to the British and French navies bankrupted the business in 1806. This pamphlet urges Congress to ease restrictions on foreign trade: “I have… avoided encroaching on the functions of a prophet. I have not foretold the subversion of the federal Constitution, or the division of the nation into two independent governments, in consequence of obstinate restrictions upon commerce, or a war with England. I have not even ventured to predict that our present measures will bring upon our backs, without any delay, the bullets and bombs of the British navy. I should not, indeed, be greatly surprised if both should happen.” In March 1809, Congress repealed the Embargo Act, although the lesser trade restrictions imposed in its place contributed to the outbreak of the War of 1812. Sabin 413, 8456. Howes B830.

Some foxing and embrowning to text. A very good copy.

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