“WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT”: BIOGRAPHY OF THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, WITH BIOGRAPHIES OF ALL 56 SIGNERS, INCLUDING JEFFERSON, FRANKLIN AND ADAMS
(HANCOCK, John; JEFFERSON, Thomas et al.) SANDERSON, John, editor. Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. Second Edition. Philadelphia: William Brown and Charles Peters, 1828. Five volumes. Octavo, early full dark brown morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, marbled endpapers and edges. $4500.
Revised and enlarged second edition, with biographies of all 56 signers, including Jefferson, author of the Declaration, Hancock, Franklin and John Adams. With engraved title page, 29 engraved portraits—26 by James Longacre, whose reputation was established by this work—and four leaves of facsimiles of the signers' signatures as they appear on the Declaration. Handsomely bound.
With thunderous cannon from the British armada threatening American shores, Jefferson, Franklin, John Adams and their fellow delegates gathered in Philadelphia, and Jefferson was assigned the task of producing America's founding document. The Declaration of Independence not only legally created the United States of America, it "has become one of the most influential documents in world history" (Gordon Wood). Yet it would be "years before most people knew Jefferson wrote the Declaration, so carefully was it locked up in the secret anonymity of a revolutionary committee" (Randall, 272-3). The Declaration, celebrated by the embattled colonists, nevertheless posed clear peril for the 56 men who bravely proclaimed America's independence. They well understood that they "had committed treason and embarked on a course from which there could be no turning back" (McCullough, 136-7).
Biography of the Signers proved to be one of the most popular works of its time. Founding editor Sanderson and his brother Joseph were chiefly responsible for collecting and publishing the biographies of all the Signers. Throughout the five volumes are 29 stipple-engraved portraits, 26 by James Barton Longacre, whose reputation was established by this impressive work, which includes his famous portraits of Hancock, Franklin, Jefferson and John Adams. Biography was only the second commission for Longacre. "By the time the last volume was published, his skills both as an artist and an engraver had grown impressively, and he ranked among the leading engravers in the United States" (ANB). First published 1820-27. Engraved general title page in Volume I with Nashville, Tennessee, 1831 imprint. Shaw & Shoemaker 35099. Sabin 76399. Howes S88. Owner signatures.
Light occasional embrowning and spotting. A handsome, near-fine set.