"ENJOYED AN IMMEDIATE SUCCESS… REPEATED BOOK-FORM PRINTINGS SPEAK OF AN ENDURING REPUTATION": TRENCHARD AND GORDON'S INDEPENDENT WHIG, 1721 FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM OF THE FIRST 53 NUMBERS
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) [GORDON, Thomas and TRENCHARD, John]. The Independent Whig. London: Printed for J. Peele, 1721. 12mo, 19th-century three-quarter calf and marbled boards rebacked, endpapers renewed. $1200.
First edition in book form of the first 53 numbers (of 74) of this pioneering and influential work by Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard, "the foremost libertarian thinkers of the early 18th century," who in part through these essays attacking the High Church party, and through their subsequent contributions to the London Journal and the British Journal—known as Cato's Letters—directly influenced many of the founding fathers, including writers such as Franklin, Dickinson, Livingstone, Adams and Zenger.
"Trenchard's popular publications were those he produced in collaboration with Thomas Gordon… Gordon always celebrated Trenchard, his 'best Tutor' (Cato's Letters), and Trenchard's wealth probably underwrote the beginning of what proved to be an unrivalled success in the annals of early journalism. The Independent Whig, which appeared on Wednesdays from 20 January 1720 and ran for almost a year, censured what Gordon, Trenchard, and a third contributor—perhaps Anthony Collins—considered the ubiquitous and corrupt influence of high-church clerics propagating false divinity from their sacerdotal thrones… The Wednesday Whig and the Saturday missive [i.e., Cato's Letters] enjoyed immediate success, and repeated book-form printings of the Independent Whig and Cato's Letters during the 18th century, speak of an enduring reputation. Readers on both sides of the Atlantic and in the salons of continental philosophes found in these publications resonant rhetoric to sound their own causes" (ODNB). In the course of American political development during the 18th century, Trenchard and Gordon were "the foremost libertarian thinkers of the early 18th century" (Bailyn, The Press & the American Revolution, 66). "A number of these papers were originally published in December 1719, at the time of the rejection of the Peerage Bill" (Sowerby). First published in periodical form from 1719-20, this volume constitutes the first collected edition in book form of the first 53 numbers published up to and including January 4, 1720 (the total eventually reached 74). Lowndes, 916. Sowerby 2739 (Jefferson owned a mixed edition from 1753).
A few running headers trimmed a little close; minor foxing and soiling to title page, first few and last few leaves, interior generally clean; corners rounded. A very good copy.