“SHALL WE GIVE UP THE INHERITANCE OF OUR FOREFATHERS WITHOUT A TRIAL?”: EXPANDED EDITION OF TRUMBULL’S PLEA, 1774
TRUMBULL, Benjamin. A Plea, In Vindication of the Connecticut to the Contested Lands, Lying West of the Province of New-York. New Haven: Printed by Thomas and Samuel Green, 1774. Slim octavo, modern three-quarter burgundy morocco, raised bands, marbled boards, uncut and partially unopened. $1200.
Second and much expanded edition, containing the extensive Appendix not present in the initial pamphlet published the same year, of Trumbull’s Plea arguing forcefully for Connecticut claims to disputed territory in western Pennsylvania, giving “for the first time a clear and forceful claim to the lands along the Susquehanna” (Streeter 705).
From its earliest days as a chartered colony, Connecticut led a “long, successful fight for land in the west” (Wheeler, Connecticut Genesis of the Western Reserve, 57). Its expansion “westward was encouraged by the fact that the [royal] charter bounds extended to the Pacific Ocean…. No one dreamed then of pressing the claim beyond the Mississippi River… but Connecticut did think that she owned the northern two fifths of Pennsylvania… In 1681 Charles gave William Penn a grant of Pennsylvania” that further perplexed colonial borders, and in 1753 Connecticut settlers moved “to colonize the Wyoming Country as the Pennsylvania section was called.” Shortly after, in 1754, the newly formed Susquehanna Company signed “a treaty with the Five Nations, July 11, 1754, by which they secured for 2,000 British pounds a tract of land, beginning at the 41st degree of latitude, the southern boundary of Connecticut, thence running north, following the line of the Susquehanna to the present northern boundary of Pennsylvania; thence 120 miles west; then south to the 41st degree, and back to the point of the beginning…. Pennsylvania objected, but the company sent out surveyors and plotted the tract” (Clark, History of Connecticut, 198-200). In 1771 when a Pennsylvania pamphleteer loudly disputed the Company’s claim, Benjamin Trumbull, a Connecticut clergyman who served in the Revolution, “responded with his own pro-Company pamphlet, and the print war was on” (Wheeler, 64n). Trumbull’s Plea “gives here for the first time a clear and forceful claim to the lands along the Susquehanna” (Streeter 705). In return for surrendering its claims, Connecticut was later given land that became known as the Western Reserve of Connecticut, which remained largely unsettled until passage of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. With the three-part Appendix (103-160) not present in the virtually unobtainable pamphlet published in June the same year. With rear errata leaf. Serialized (excepting Appendix) in the Connecticut Journal: March 15, April 1 and 8, 1774. Evans 13692. Howes T368. Sabin 97189. See Evans 13691; Streeter 702.
Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, tiny bit of edge-wear to final leaf not affecting text. An major early American work in extremely good condition.