1774 FORERUNNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, SCARCE FIRST LONDON PRINTING OF EXTRACTS FROM THE… PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, WITH ITS BOLD ASSERTION OF AMERICAN RIGHTS TO “LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PROPERTY”
CONTINENTAL CONGRESS. Extracts from the Votes and Proceedings of the American Continental Congress, Held at Philadelphia, on the Fifth of September, 1774. Containing, The Bill of Rights, a List of Grievances, Occasional Resolves, the Association, an Address to the People of Great-Britain, and a Memorial to the Inhabitants of the British American Colonies. Philadelphia Printed. London: Reprinted for J. Almon, 1774. Octavo, modern half dark brown calf, raised bands, red morocco label, marbled boards and endpapers; pp. (2), 82. $3500.
First English edition of this important “forerunner of the Declaration of Independence,” published by order of the Congress, and reprinted in London within two months of the Philadelphia edition. With the significant inclusion of the “Address to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec” that did not appear in the original Philadelphia edition.
Foremost in these extraordinary proceedings of the first Continental Congress is a "Bill of Rights," which clearly and strongly defines and asserts the rights of the colonists. These fundamental rights, from "the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters," include: "life, liberty, and property"; the rights and liberties granted to English citizens; representation and participation in legislation and government, especially in issues of taxation and internal policy; trial by jury; "a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the King." These important rights and liberties were the defining issues of the revolution and became the foundation of the Declaration of Independence. "The First Continental Congress met at Philadelphia on 5 September 1774. The fifty-five members of this Congress… evolved into a federal government of a nation at war… Congress faced a delicate task. America as a whole did not want independence; every path to conciliation must be kept open. But Congress had to do something about the Coercive Acts, and also to suggest a permanent solution of the struggle between libertas and imperium… The Continental Congress issued a Declaration of Rights stating that Americans were entitled to all English liberties… Congress then adopted a non-importation, non-exportation, and non-consumption agreement, virtually cutting off imports [to and from Britain if the Coercive Acts were not repealed]… The agreement was called The Association." The Continental Congress also agreed to reassemble on 10 May 1775 if colonial rights and liberties had not been restored (Morison, 207-8). This important London edition contains the "Address to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec," dated Oct. 26, 1774 (pp. 66-82), which did not appear in the original edition published in Philadelphia on October 24, 1774. Without half title and publisher's advertisement leaf, not present in all copies. Howes E247. Sabin 15528. Adams, American Controversy 74-83b. Stevens 1926, 65-66. Light library stamps on three leaves.
Title page trimmed and re-margined, not affecting text, repaired closed tear to D3; binding fine and attractive. Rare and important.