Pennsylvania Magazine

Thomas PAINE

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(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) (PAINE, Thomas, editor). The Pennsylvania Magazine: Or, American Monthly Museum. Philadelphia: R. Aitken, April, 1775. Octavo, later plain paper wrappers, renewed stitching; pp. [4 unnumbered], [149]-192. Housed in a custom clamshell box.

First edition of the Thomas Paine-edited Pennsylvania Magazine for April, 1775, including a graphic, eye-witness report of the first military engagement of the American Revolution (the Battle of Lexington and Concord), and also mentioning Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride.

The Pennsylvania Magazine was founded on the eve of the American Revolution by Robert Aitken (subsequently printer to the Continental Congress) and edited by Thomas Paine, one of the leading Revolutionary publicists. Paine's editorship of The Pennsylvania Magazine was the crucial apprenticeship that enabled him to write "Common Sense."

The final pages (184-92) are devoted to "Monthly Intelligence," with news from around the world. On page 189, a news bulletin dated "Philadelphia, May 1," reads "On Monday April 24, this city was greatly alarmed by an express arriving about three in the afternoon, with an account of an engagement between the king's troops and the provincials, near Boston. As the exact circumstances of that affair are not yet certainly known, we shall give our readers the expresses and accounts in the order they were received…

"By an express arrived here last Friday evening, we have the following. Hartford, April 23 [1775]. These are to inform you, that we have undoubted intelligence of hostilities being begun at Boston by the regular troops, the truth of which we are assured divers ways, and especially by Mr. Adams the post; the particulars of which, as nigh as I can recollect, are as follow: General Gage, last Tuesday night, draughted out about 1000 or 1200 of his best troops in a secret manner, which he embarked on board transports, and carried and landed at Cambridge that night, and early Wednesday morning by day break they marched up to Lexington, where a number of inhabitants were exercising before breakfast as usual, about 30 in number, upon whom the regulars fired without the least provocation, about 15 minutes, without a single shot from our men, who retreated as fast as possible, in which fire they killed 6 of our men, and wounded several, from thence they proceeded to Concord, on the road thither, they fired at, and killed a man on horseback; went to the house where Mr. Hancock lodged, who with Samuel Adams, luckily got out of their way by secret and speedy intelligence from Paul Revere, who is now missing, and nothing heard of him since; when they searched the house for Mr. Hancock, and Adams, and not finding them there, killed the woman of the house and all the children, and set fire to the house… This colony is all alarmed, every town is preparing for a march; many companies have already marched, bag and baggage. Stop—This moment an express is arrived; the troops encamped, Thursday night got into Boston, under the guns of the ships. The truth of General Haldiman's death is confirmed: Lord Piercy is missing, supposed to be burnt with other dead bodies, by the troops, in a barn" (pp. 191-92).

The letter's description continued through the action at Concord, the march of the British reinforcements, the capture of prisoners, and many other events such as the 300-man British contingent at Marshfield who are described as "all killed and taken prisoners." Furthermore, it is one of the few public reports of Paul Revere's part in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. This alarming news spread widely throughout the Colonies. Similar mentions can be found in the Pennsylvania Mercury of April 28, the Pennsylvania Ledger of April 29, and John Dunlap's Pennsylvania Packet of May 1. The present publication, while dated April 1775, must have been published in early May as there are notices dated May 1.

Furthermore, this volume contains the first appearance of Paine's "Cupid and Hymen," a veiled political commentary on the relationship between the colonies and Great Britain, here disguised as a fable, signed "Esop." Paine implies that the bond should be based on choice and mutual consent—not commercial interests. "April 1775, when this edition of the Pennsylvania Magazine first appeared, was also the month of Lexington and Concord. So, without explicitly… referring to recent events during which the Crown had employed its military might to enforce its legal claims, Paine manages to address, at least philosophically, the crisis occupying the attention of most of the colonists at the time" (Edward Larkin's edition of Paine's "Common Sense," 2004, 18-19). With one engraved plate (of two) of a frame house resembling brick; without the plate entitled "New Invented Machine for Spinning of Wool or Cotton" engraved by Robert Aitken after C. Tully, the inventor, to be bound opposite page 158 (stub visible). Mott, American Magazines I, 87-91.

Occasional foxing. A near-fine copy of this scarce Revolutionary War-era periodical edited by Thomas Paine.

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