Sixth of August or the Litchfield Festival Address

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“EVERY MAN HAS THE LIBERTY OF DOING ALL THINGS WHICH ARE RIGHT AND MANY THINGS WHICH ARE WRONG”: SCARCE 1806 PAMPHLET, A PIVOTAL DOCUMENT EXPRESSING THE FIERCE OPPOSITION BETWEEN FEDERALISTS AND JEFFERSONIAN REPUBLICANS

(CONNECTICUT). The Sixth of August or The Litchfield Festival. An Address to the People of Connecticut. [Hartford]: (Hudson and Goodwin, 1806). Octavo, stitched as issued, uncut; pp. 16. $3000.

First edition of the anonymous pamphlet containing an impassioned Federalist response (dated September 1st, 1806) to Jeffersonian Republicans, believed written by Connecticut Judge Tapping Reeve, founder of “the first true American law school,” an ardent Federalist later implicated with the pamphlet’s Federalist publisher in a lawsuit ultimately settled in 1812 by the Supreme Court.

With the divide between Federalism and its opponents continuing to shape 19th-century politics, Connecticut played a key role as one of the states where Jeffersonian Republicans lost the 1804 election. “Federalists were in full control of the state government and there, more than anywhere else, the local Republicans were subject to persecution in state courts and the President to denunciation in pulpits… Nowhere else did Jefferson’s supporters operate under such difficulties or have so little success as in Connecticut” (Malone:V, 372). Litchfield was particularly Federalist in its loyalties and “Federalist-Republican disputes played a prominent role in Litchfield County litigation. Parties involved included newspaper publishers and editors and the country sheriff, and centered on Selleck Osborn, publisher and editor of The Witness, a Litchfield newspaper. Osborn, who was an outspoken Republican, was arrested and tried by the State for libel” for articles written during the 1805 election (Litchfield County Court Files, 1751-1855, 2-3).

This scarce Federalist pamphlet addresses the subsequent events of August 1806, when Republicans reacted to Osborn’s incarceration “by holding in the town of Litchfield what came to be known as the Sixth-of-August Festival,” marked by anti-Federalist speeches (Purcell, Connecticut in Transition: 1775-1818, 175). The pamphlet’s presumed author, Judge Reeve, had “decidedly Federalist sympathies.” He earlier founded Litchfield Law School, “considered the first true American law school,” with Aaron Burr and Vice-President John Calhoun among its graduates (Litchfield County Court Files, 1751-1855, 1-3). As a Federalist, Reeve “produced at least 26 articles for the Federalist newspaper The Monitor between 1801 and 1803” under several pseudonyms (ANB). The pamphlet labels Osborn and his newspaper as “notoriously the most foul, and scurrilous of any ever printed in the United States” and praises Federalism for a record in which “every man has the liberty of doing all things which are right and many things which are wrong” (6,13). Litchfield’s Federalist-Republican disputes also produced a legendary lawsuit implicating Judge Reeve and its publisher Hudson and Goodwin in yet another Federalist-Republican dispute. The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court in 1812 where the Court supported Republican arguments against a federal common law of crimes in its ruling on U.S. v. Hudson & Goodwin, 7 Cranch (11 U.S.) 32. Sabin 81493. See Sabin 41474. Shaw & Shoemaker 11366. Contemporary owner notation (“Saybrook”) dated May 31st, 1811.

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