"FIRST IMPORTANT HISTORICAL WORK BY AN AMERICAN WOMAN": FIRST EDITION OF WARREN'S FAMOUS HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1805
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) WARREN, Mercy. History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution Interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations. Boston: Printed by Manning and Loring for E. Larkin, 1805. Three volumes. Octavo, contemporary full brown sheep rebacked, black morocco spine labels; pp. (xii), 447; (viii), 412; (vi) 475. $10,200.
First edition of Mercy Warren's pioneering three-volume history, offering a rare "insider's view of the Revolution," begun in the earliest days of America's struggle for independence, in contemporary sheep boards.
Mercy Warren, the premiere first-generation Revolutionary historian, possessed "the most systematic understanding of the relationship between ideology and ethics, the best developed interpretation of how corruption operated in history, and the clearest insight into the historian's role as a social and political critic" (William and Mary Quarterly). Hers remains the "first important historical work by an American woman" (Howes W122). Warren began her account at the earliest stirrings of the Revolution and "worked steadily on the three volumes that were finally published—when Warren was 77… Her work not only provided an insider's view of the Revolution, but also set an important precedent for women authors" (Weatherford, American Women's History, 365).
Warren expertly drew upon the knowledge of key figures such as her husband, politician James Warren, and her brother James Otis, famous for his phrase, "taxation without representation is tyranny," and regularly she corresponded with notables such as Samuel Adams, Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who owned a copy of her History and commented, "I have long possessed evidence of her high station in the ranks of genius" (The Library of Thomas Jefferson 508). Howes aa: "quite scarce, obtainable only with some difficulty" (W122). Sabin 101484. Shaw & Shoemaker 9687. See Sowerby 4439. Each volume with early owner signatures on the title page of William Overstreet, dated "April 2.18); inkstamps of "W. Overstreet" above the first Contents page. While confirmation remains elusive, this copy reportedly belonged to the Overstreet family of Revolutionary Virginia, which included a William Overstreet, who fought in the militia at the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, serving in Captain Thomas Buford's Company of Bedford County. As the decisive action of Dunmore's War, it has long been the subject of debate in West Virginia history. That debate was heightened in 1899 when a newspaper led efforts "to have Point Pleasant officially designated the 'first battle of the American Revolution,' despite most historical interpretations which pointed to the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord" (West Virginia Archives and History V56). In 1781, as the Revolution neared Yorktown, "Old John Overstreet, a Continental Line veteran, joined the militia for this final campaign. A good number Halls, Overstreets and their kindred were gathered, pushed and in other ways encouraged to become participants in the last great battle of the war. In later years they could proudly relate that they had been at Yorktown" (The Grandfathers. Vol. I The Hall and Overstreet Families, 73).
Interiors with slight embrowning, scattered foxing. Contemporary sheep boards with expert restoration. A very good copy.