"SUCH WAS THE POWER OF PAINE'S PEN!": 1796 PHILADELPHIA EDITION OF PAINE'S DECLINE AND FALL OF BRITISH FINANCE
PAINE, Thomas. The Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance. Philadelphia: Printed by John Page… for Benjamin Franklin Bache, 1796. Octavo, disbound, uncut; pp. 33, [1, blank]. Housed in a custom cloth portfolio. $1500.
Early American edition of Paine's fiery attack on the British financial system, issued the same year as the Paris first edition, asserting the impact of the American Revolution on England, citing Adam Smith and prompting a run on the Bank of England.
With Paine's controversial Decline and Fall, he documents the economic impact of the American Revolution on British banks, and cites Adam Smith on the subject of public debt. Developing ideas introduced in The American Crisis (1776-78), "Paine attacked the English government through its economic system. He set out to prove that within 20 years, Britain's currency would fail… [arguing] that bank notes were not worth the paper on which they are printed." In April 1796 Paine presented copies of Decline and Fall 'to the French people… The pamphlet generated considerable discussion, especially because it predicted that the bellicose government of England was nearing collapse'" (Keane, 427-8). With this controversial pamphlet on "the soundness of English paper money… A run started on the Bank of England and it had to close its doors. Such was the power of Paine's pen!" (Gimbel-Hall 100). Though "the success of Decline and Fall was quickly overshadowed by Paine's scandalous attack on George Washington," published that July, "the British government was reminded of the influence of Paine," with the printing of several London editions and refutations, followed by printings in America and several European translations (Keane, 429). Preceded the same year by the Paris edition. This first American edition is one of two by Philadelphia publisher John Page; the other does includes the six-page "Speech of Thomas Paine" not included in this issue. Issued along with a New York edition and a Sweitzer Philadelphia edition: no priority established. With half title. Evans 30946. Kress B3266.
Infrequent spotting. An extremely good uncut copy.