FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF RAYNAL'S REVOLUTION OF AMERICA, 1781, WHICH PROMPTED THOMAS PAINE'S FAMOUS 1782 LETTER… TO ABBÉ RAYNAL
RAYNAL, Abbé [Guillaume Thomas François]. The Revolution of America. London: Lockyer Davis, Holborn, 1781. Small octavo (5 by 7-3/4 inches), period style full brown calf, raised bands, red morocco spine label, ; pp. (iii) iv-xiii (xiv) xv-xvi, (1) 2-181 (3). $2500.
First edition in English, simultaneous with the first French edition, of Raynal's provocative work that dismissed the American Revolution as a "temporary upheaval," triggering Paine's fierce reply in his Letter… to Abbé Raynal, where he heralded the American cause as "the first war to be based on principle in the history of the world."
A French historian sympathetic to Great Britain, Abbé Raynal here argues "that the American Revolution, like previous revolutions in history, was a temporary upheaval generated by exaggerated anxieties about piffling taxation increases" (Keane, 230). "Moreover, Raynal… [declares] that the British had offered peace terms as early as 1778 but the Americans had refused them, because they had already entered into an alliance with the French" (Fruchtman, 143). "The translator procured a copy of the original unpublished manuscript from the Abbé Raynal, and without his knowledge or consent, published it in French, at the same time with this translation" (Sabin 68104). Raynal's treatise is especially famed for rousing "the ire of Thomas Paine [who read a Philadelphia edition] because of its many false statements. He answered this work in his Letter to the Abbé" (Gimbel-Yale 33), which made the case that "the American war against Britain was the first war to be based on principle in the history of the world" and that "the American cause was based on universally-held principles" (Fruchtman, 144-45). Two pages of advertisements at rear. Howes R85. Goldsmiths 12161. Kress B.410. See Adams, American Controversy 81-59m (in this copy, imprint reads "Holborn" rather than "Holbourn"; errata is four lines instead of three; "Advertisement by the Translator" is dated "London, March 5, 1781," not "London, March 5, 1782"). Early owner signature above title page of "G. Baillie," possibly belonging to a descendant of Robert Baillie, who was executed after being "charged with complicity in the 1683 Rye House Plot" against Charles II (History of Parliament).
A fine copy, handsomely bound.