EXCEEDINGLY RARE 1774 "FORERUNNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE": EXTRACTS FROM THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE AMERICAN CONTINTENTAL CONGRESS, ASSERTING THE RIGHTS OF THE AMERICAN COLONISTS TO “LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PROPERTY"
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) (CONTINENTAL CONGRESS). Extracts From the Votes and Proceedings of the American Continental Congress, Held at Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774. Containing The Bill of Rights, a List of Grievances, Occasional Resolves, the Association, an Address to the People of Great-Britain, a Memorial to the Inhabitants of the British American Colonies. Published by Order of the Congress. Philadelphia Printed: Boston, Re-printed: And Sold by John Boyle in Marlborough-Street, and Mills and Hicks in School-Street, 1774. Octavo, period-style full tree calf gilt, red morocco spine label; pp. (1-3), 4-43, (44), 45-52. $11,500.
Rare 1774 Boston printing issued quickly after the same year's first Philadelphia printing and mere months after the 1773 Boston Tea Party sparked Britain's Coercive Acts of March-June 1774, aimed at punishing the rebellious city, provoking the Continental Congress to meet that fall and issue the Extracts, America's bold step toward open revolt in April 1775.
When the "First Continental Congress met at Philadelphia on 5 September 1774… [and] 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… 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and non-consumption agreement, virtually cutting off imports [to and from Britain if the Coercive Acts were not repealed]" (Morison, 207-8). The Continental Congress also agreed to reassemble on 10 May 1775 if colonial rights and liberties had not been restored. The Extracts contains the Declaration of Rights, which was passed by the Congress on October 14, and asserts the colonists' rights "by the immutable laws of nature… That they are entitled to life liberty and property." These and other rights are said to be in violation of the Stamp Act, Coercive Acts and the Quebec Acts, the latter seen by many Americans as one of the Coercive Acts. The Extracts further details America's rights to representation and participation in legislation and government, especially in issues of taxation and internal policy, along with trial by jury and other core rights and liberties that became foundation of the Declaration of Independence, and set America on its course toward the Revolution. Of particular interest to Boston was the inclusion in the Extracts of a statement noting the "repeated insults they receive form the [British] soldiery," compelling Boston's colonists to "suspect a plan is formed very destructive to them and tending to overthrow the liberties of America."
The first edition of the Extracts was printed in Philadelphia by Bradford on October 24th, 1774 but Congress did not adjourn until October 26. As a result, the Address to the Inhabitants of Quebec, adopted by Congress on its last day, was not included until the October 27th Philadelphia printings. Printers in Annapolis, Boston, Hartford, New-London, New York, Newport, Norwich, Providence, and Williamsburg immediately printed the Extracts as soon as they were able to acquire one of the Philadelphia printings; some of these 1774 printings contain the Quebec Address and others do not, depending on which Philadelphia editions they based their own printings. Any Boston edition is most exceedingly rare. This 1774 Boston printing is especially notable in containing the Quebec Address. Of the virtually unavailable Boston editions separately issued by its two leading printers, John Boyle and Edes & Giles, this is only Boyle printing complete with that Address: titled, "To the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec" (pp. 44-52). "The forerunner of the Declaration of Independence" (Howes E247). Evans 13728. ESTC W32253. Sabin 15528. Powell, Books of a New Nation, 40-42. See Adams, American Controversy 74-83a.
Text generally fresh, expert paper repair t pg. 49 affecting just a few words but not readability, scattered foxing mainly to early leaves.