"THE MADNESS OF INDEPENDENCE HAS SPREAD": FIRST EDITION OF SAMUEL JOHNSON'S CONTROVERSIAL POLITICAL TRACTS, 1776, INCLUDING THE INCENDIARY TAXATION NO TYRANNY (1775)
JOHNSON, Samuel. Political Tracts. London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1776. Octavo, contemporary full polished brown calf rebacked and recornered red morocco spine labels. $2500.
First edition of Johnson's four anonymously published political tracts, together in one volume for the first time, False Alarm (1770), Falkland's Islands (1771), The Patriot (1774) and Taxation No Tyranny (1775), his provocative attack on American colonists and the First Continental Congress.
Johnson, famed for his Dictionary (1755), expressed his political and social attitudes "in vigorous controversial fashion, to specific issues and events in the four political pamphlets he wrote in the 1770s." This volume, which brings together those four works for the first time, is especially notable for containing his notorious "anti-American pamphlet, Taxation No Tyranny" (Wain, 280-85). Johnson had a "pitiless and violent hatred of the American Revolution" and Taxation, originally issued in a 1775 edition of 500 copies, was so incendiary that it helped sever the Anglo-American bond (Hitchens, Atlantic). In it he belittles the First Continental Congress, declaring its resolutions "wild, indefinite and obscure… the madness of independence has spread." He also targets colonists "for their hatred of authority, their unseemly scramble for money, and especially their dependence on slaves… Likewise, many colonists saw in Johnson everything they disliked about the mother country—and yet they continued to read, and even admire, the work of this propagandist for King George III… Members of the founding generation relied on Johnson when they wrote their most important works—the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers" (Lynch, New York Times). Stahan and Cadell "printed 750 copies" (Adams 76-71a). Bound without rear advertisements. ESTC T130899. Courtney & Smith, 127. Sabin 36302. Goldsmith's I:11501. Bookplate of Oscar Benjamin Cintas of Cuba.
Interior fresh with tiny bit of dampstaining to preliminaries, mild rubbing to boards. A near-fine copy desirable in contemporary boards.