Declaration of the People's Natural Right

Granville SHARP

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Item#: 124106 price:$5,250.00

Declaration of the People's Natural Right
Declaration of the People's Natural Right


SHARP, Granville. A Declaration of the People's Natural Right to a Share in the Legislature; Which is the Fundamental Principle of the British Constitution of State. London: Printed for B. White, 1775. Octavo, original blue-gray paper boards rebacked period-style in white paper spine with replica paper spine label, entirely uncut; pp. (4), (i-xl), 1-278 (279), (1), 2-4. $5250.

Rare true expanded "Second Edition," with same initial collation as a virtually unavailable 1774 edition "made for the purpose only of being given among the Author's friends," combining the sheets of that work with text substantially added to assert rights such as trial by jury, the fallibility of kings, the "people's right of representation" and the dire effect of slavery on America's struggle for independence, noting the colonies' "toleration of it greatly weakens the claim or natural right of our American brethren to LIBERTY" (emphasis in original), exceptional uncut in original boards.

British abolitionist Granville Sharp first became "involved in the struggle for the liberation of slaves in England" in 1765. When the British court handed down its "momentous" 1772 decision on slavery, "this first great victory in the struggle for the emancipation of slaves was entirely due to Sharp… This question did not exhaust Sharp's benevolent energies… His sympathies were easily enlisted on behalf of the American colonies, and in 1774 he published A Declaration of the People's Natural Right to a Share in the Legislature" (DNB). It was here that Sharp persuasively addressed what was seen as a contradiction in colonial claims of "the natural and inalienable rights of mankind… in the face of domestic slavery" (Bailyn, 241). "A powerful influence in determining colonial resistance" (Howes S331), Sharp's rarely found original 1774 pamphlet "was reprinted four times in the colonies before the year was out" (Bailyn, 241).

Sharp's defense of the people's right to a legislative voice fundamentally altered a changing tide of public opinion, and "it was no accident that Americans in Philadelphia in 1775 formed the first anti-slavery society in the world… the Revolution in effect [would] set in motion ideological and social forces that doomed the institution of slavery in the North and led inexorably to the Civil War" (Wood, 186-7). Stated "Second Edition": with half title. Contains sheets of Sharp's virtually unavailable 32-page 1774 pamphlet along with his added Preface, the "Extract of a Letter on the foregoing subject": pp. 33-46, and his "Declaration… Part II": pp. (49)-244. Containing over 30 pages of text not present in the first edition, including the Index (245-255) and "Index of the Various Topics Discussed" (256-279). Featuring extensive commentary on Parliament noting it "has no power to give up the people's right of representation," the English common law, the danger of standing armies "to constitutional liberty," the danger of a king "who forgets he is a fallible man," the right to trial by jury as "the first and most essential law of the British constitution," and emphasis on the dangers of slavery in America: declaring: "The toleration of it greatly weakens the claim or natural right of our American brethren to LIBERTY" (emphasis in original). Substantially same collation as the exceedingly rare 1774 edition: one of a very limited number "printed for private distribution only" (Sabin 79816), noted in a 1775 Monthly Review article stating, "We are… sorry to find that but a small impression… has been made, for the purpose only of being given among the Author's friends" (Adams, American Controversy 74-72b). With single blank leaf (G4), often lacking (Sowerby 3069); two leaves of publisher's advertisements at rear. Adams, American Controversy 74-72d. Goldsmiths' I:1367. Sabin 79817. See Sweet & Maxwell I:148. Small library deaccession inkstamps: lower margin of first page of Preface, rear blank.

Text especially fresh with mere trace of foxing, light rubbing, soiling to original boards. An excellent near-fine copy.

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