"THE RIGHT OF THE MOTHER COUNTRY TO IMPOSE SUCH A DUTY UPON HER COLONIES… CANNOT BE QUESTIONED": RARE FIRST EDITION OF WHATELY'S REGULATIONS LATELY MADE CONCERNING THE COLONIES, 1765, SUBSTANTIATING BRITAIN'S RIGHT TO PASS THE SAME YEAR'S STAMP ACT
(STAMP ACT) (WHATELY, Thomas). The Regulations Lately Made concerning the Colonies, And the Taxes Imposed upon Them, considered. London: Printed for J. Wilkie, 1765. Small octavo (4-1/2 by 7-1/4 inches), modern tan paper boards; pp. (ii) (1-2) 3-114. Housed in a custom folding portfolio. $4500.
First edition of the anonymously issued Regulations by secretary of the Treasury Whately—an "arch-foe" of American patriots—proclaiming Britain's right to tax Americans in the same year's infamous Stamp Act, also importantly drafted by Whately, here sparking colonial outrage and a key opposing work by America's Daniel Dulany, putting the "colonies on the road to revolution."
It is not too much to say that the "American Revolution began… with resistance to the Stamp Act" (Smith I:257). Parliament's plan for this "tax to be imposed on paper used for all manner of articles… had its first reading in the Commons (before a half-empty House) in early February 1765," with enactment set for that November. What Parliament did not realize, however, was that the Stamp Act sparked "the beginning of the end of British America" (Schama, 457-8). It was Thomas Whately, trusted secretary of the Treasury under Grenville, who was given "the task of drawing up the Stamp Act" (Morgan & Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis, 240). The same year as its passage, Whately also "ably defended the administration in two publications, Remarks on the Budget and the more important Regulations Lately Made Concerning the Colonies, both published in January 1765. He never deviated from his declared opinions, and consequently many Americans in London came to see him as their arch-foe" (ODNB). "Virtually all historians writing about the early stages of the American Revolution have taken note of… Regulations Lately Made Concerning the Colonies." For with this rare and pivotal work, Whately signaled and substantiated the Stamp Act in a widely applicable, "methodical and cogent… defense of British colonial policy" (Christie, "Vision of Empire," in English Historical Review).
To Whately, "the Stamp Act was more than simply a tax on Britain's American colonies; it was a tax on legal and commercial transactions within those colonies… the litigiousness of American society was very much on Whately's mind when he drafted the Stamp Act," especially regarding "'the great Number of Law Suits in most of the Colonies' and the vast potential source of revenue" (Priest & du Rivage, Stamp Act). In Regulations Whately declared: "the Right of the Mother Country to impose such a Duty upon her Colonies, if duly considered, cannot be questioned" (104). On the issue of taxation without representation, he contended the American colonies "were 'virtually represented in Parliament.' This was because 'every Member of Parliament sits in the House, not as Representatives of his own Constituents, but as one of that august Assembly by which all the Commons of Great Britain are represented'… The fact that the colonies had their own assemblies did not, according to Whately, affect Parliament's right to levy taxes on them… Whately's idea of virtual representation met with a forceful response from Daniel Dulany" in his 1765 Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes (Yirush, 226-27): a work that also "helped to put the colonies on the road to revolution" (Johns, What Happened, 105-6). Although Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766, ultimately "the only way for the American colonists to solve their differences with Great Britain was to tear away from it completely. Doing that meant war" (Hayes, 166). With half title. "Despite the attribution to Grenville on the title page of the 'Third Edition'… we know that Whately was the author" (Adams, American Controversy 65-27a). Advertised in the London Chronicle and other major London journals, January-February 1765. Adams, American Independence 21a. ESTC T13513. Sabin 28770. Goldsmiths' 10104. Howes W3111. See Kress 6161. From the library of James Strohn Copley with his bookplate in the custom half morocco folding portfolio by Atmore Beach. Copley, a widely respected journalist, newspaper publisher, philanthropist and collector, was publisher of the San Diego Union, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the San Diego Evening Tribune from 1947 until his death in 1973. He was Chairman of the Board of The Copley Press, a newspaper chain comprising 15 daily and 32 weekly publications. Copley's "astonishing collection" of some 2000 items created "a documentary survey of the American past" (New York Times).
Text bright with tiny gutter-edge pinholes from original stitching, lightest scattered foxing. A handsome about-fine copy with a distinctive provenance.