“NOTHING CAN BE OF SO MUCH CONSEQUENCE TO US AS LIBERTY”: EARLY EDITION OF RICHARD PRICE’S CIVIL LIBERTY, AN IMPORTANT INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
PRICE, Richard. Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America. London: E. and C. Dilly, and T. Cadell, 1776. Octavo, early 20th-century half blue morocco. $1800.
Early (sixth) edition of this important work on civil liberty, a significant influence on American independence, printed the same year as the first.
The first edition of Price’s Observations (printed mid-February, 1776) sold out within three days, and by May 14th was in its eleventh edition. A close friend of Benjamin Franklin and one of the most influential British advocates of American independence, Price believed every community had a right to govern itself. He discusses four types of liberty (physical, moral, religious, and civil), focusing primarily on civil liberty, the principles of government, and the issues surrounding the war of American independence. Price warned that the war would be financially disastrous for England and argued for new measures to be adopted in the treatment of the American colonies, or else “ruin” would be “our lot.” He foresaw the possibility that America could establish “a plan of government, and a growing power that shall astonish the world, and under which every subject of human enquiry shall be open to free discussion, and the friends of Liberty, in every quarter of the globe, find a safe retreat from civil and spiritual tyranny” (p. 103). This work had a significant effect on the resolve of American colonists to secure self-government. In 1778 Price was offered the singular honor of United States citizenship. “In recognition of his services in the cause of liberty, Dr. Price was presented with the freedom of the city of London, and it is said that the encouragement derived from this book had no inconsiderable share in determining the American colonists to declare their independence” (DNB). Adams, American Controversy 76-118h; American Independence 224h. Sabin 65452. See Howes P586; Kress 7243; Goldsmiths 11512. Bookplate of the Kansas City Library, with its markings on A2.
Title page and last leaf uniformly embrowned. Interior quite bright. A very good copy.