Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes

Daniel DULANY   |   Samuel OTIS

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(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) (DULANY, Daniel). Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes in the British Colonies, for the Purpose of Raising a Revenue, by Act of Parliament. North-America Printed: London: Re-printed for J. Almon, 1766. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown calf, marbled boards, raised bands; pp. (vi), 1-81. Housed in a custom clamshell box.

Extremely rare first English edition, from the same sheets as the first printing, of Dulany’s immensely powerful argument against taxation without representation—the “most significant and most influential” pamphlet opposing the 1765 Stamp Act—with Benjamin Franklin, then in London, ordering “this to be printed in 500 copies,” very scarce in contemporary three-quarter brown calf.

"Of all the controversial writings provoked in the American colonies by the passage of the Stamp Act, Dulany's Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes was undoubtedly the most significant and most influential" (Alden, New England Quarterly XXII:705). Considerations was "probably the most widely read and generally approved pamphlet produced in response to the Stamp Act" (ANB), and fundamentally "helped to put the colonies on the road to revolution" (Johns, What Happened, 105-6). Dulany's opposition to the Stamp Act was later hailed by Woodrow Wilson as an eloquent "case for the liberties of the colonies. Considerations… set up the true theory of the constitution of an empire" (History of the American People III:87). Viewed as "the most celebrated intellectual protest against the Stamp Act" (Levy, First Emancipator, 21), Considerations proclaimed "taxation without representation was a violation of the common law of England. His forceful arguments ranked foremost among the political writings of the period." A respected Maryland lawyer who had been employed by Franklin several times, Dulany establishes "the bounds of Parliament's authority with a lawyer-like regard for tradition and precedent. Other spokesmen for the colonial cause had already begun to argue in terms of the natural rights of man, but Dulany knew that however such arguments might appeal to Americans, they would carry small weight in the British Parliament. The question, as he saw it, did not hinge so much on natural rights as it did on constitutional rights… The gist of Dulany's whole argument was that taxation formed no part of the authority which Parliament enjoyed as the supreme power in the empire. Taxation was the function of representative bodies, and the only representative bodies in America were the colonial assemblies" (Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis, 75-91). This is the important first English edition, printed from the same sheets as the first printing: "Strahan account books record that Benjamin Franklin ordered this to be printed in 500 copies" (Adams 76-6c). "Second Edition" stated on title page, corrected pagination of final text leaf. With rear page of publisher's advertisement. Preceded by the first American edition, published anonymously in Annapolis in October 1765. Adams 65-6c. Adams, Independence 29. Sabin 21170. ESTC T4070. See Adams 65-6b; Evans 9956-9960; ESTC T31541. Bookplate of the Library Company of Philadelphia with deaccession notation. Early inked notations to initial blank.

Text generally fresh, minor edge-wear to boards. A highly desirable extremely good copy, very scarce in contemporary calf and marbled boards.

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