RARE AND IMPORTANT 1774 AMERICAN (NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT) PRINTING, “THE BEST PRINTED EDITION” OF THIS IMPORTANT FORERUNNER TO THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: WITH THE EXTREMELY SCARCE QUEBEC ADDRESS AND THE FIRST PUBLISHED APPEARANCE, IN BOOK FORM, OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONGRESS’ RESPONSE TO THE SUFFOLK RESOLVES
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, and an Address to the Inhabitants of Quebec. Published by Order of the Congress. New-London: Printed by Timothy Green, 1774. Slim small quarto, original self wrappers, uncut, original stitching, pp.3-70; housed in a custom clamshell box. $12,500.
Rare 1774 New London printing of this “forerunner of the Declaration of Independence,” extracts from the extraordinary proceedings of the first Continental Congress, published by order of the Congress. This unique printing also contains the very scarce Quebec address, and the landmark earliest publication, in book form, of the Continental Congress’ response to the Suffolk Resolves of Massachusetts.
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and non-consumption agreement, virtually cutting off imports [to and from Britain if the Coercive Acts were not repealed]" (Morison, 207-8).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.
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—including this one—contain the Quebec Address and others do not, depending on which Philadelphia editions they based their own printings.
The New-London edition has been judged "the best printed edition" for containing both the scarce Quebec address and the first publication, in book form, of "an additional Resolve of Congress on the sufferings in Massachusetts, and the approval of the action of Congress, by the Colony" of Connecticut (Evans 13732). Printed here is the Continental Congress' immediate and passionate response to the particular dilemma of the Massachusetts colony, a struggle with British authority that brought delegates together for a meeting in Suffolk County, Massachusetts only days before and produced the Suffolk Resolves. With the Continental Congress already convened, Paul Revere rushed their protest to Philadelphia. In language comparing British rule to "the arbitrary will of a licentious minister" in its "unparalleled usurpation of unconstitutional power," the Suffolk Resolves insisted that the Intolerable Acts and other recent "acts of the British parliament…be rejected as the attempts of a wicked administration to enslave America." On September 10, 1774, shortly after the Suffolk County delegates met, the Continental Congress voted unanimously to approve a resolution entitled "Occasional Resolves." In so doing Congress declared its sympathy for "the suffering of their countrymen in the Massachusetts-Bay, under the operation of the late unjust, cruel, and oppressive acts of the British Parliament," stating that the "resolutions determined upon at a meeting of the delegates for the county of Suffolk, on Tuesday the sixth instant, trusting that the effect of the united efforts of North-America in their behalf, will carry such conviction to the British nation of the unwise, unjust and ruinous policy of the present administration." Subsequently the colony of Connecticut "itself paid for the reprint of the Extracts, issued by Timothy Green of New London on November 3… In this New-London imprint, Congress' resolutions answering the Suffolk Resolves and encouraging the hard-beset inhabitants of Massachusetts was printed, its first appearance outside of newspapers" (Powell, Books of a New Nation, 43).
Without half title. "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. Early owner signature on rear blank leaf.
Scattered very light foxing. A desirable uncut copy of this rare and important work, in exceptionally nicecondition.