LETTERS FROM A FARMER IN PENNSYLVANIA TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE BRITISH COLONIES REGARDING THE RIGHT OF TAXATION, AND SEVERAL OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS, TO WHICH ARE ADDED, AS AN APPENDIX, THE SPEECHES OF LORD CHATHAM, AND LORD CAMDEN, THE ONE UPON THE STAMP ACT, THE OTHER ON THE DECLARATOR BILL, WITH A PREFACE BY THE DUBLIN EDITOR.
Dublin, Ireland: J. Sheppard in Skinner Row, 1768. Ostensibly removed from sammelbande. Misbound and Incomplete.
8vo, [viii], 9-16;17-21;(22);23-84;85 as 87;86; 87 as 85;88-119;; (32);(2)
These letters are among the most significant of American colonial pamphlets, its writer well known as "The Penman of The Revolution".
Octavo. in brown, card wraps, with what appears to be leather remnants over perhaps green cloth. 7 3/8" x 4 5/8". Apparently removed
from a book of pamphlets. Pencil notes to verso of front free endpaper state "This copy removed from ["x" or "t" in a
circle],492, JCB (two words illegible), possibly indicating a deaccession from the John Carter Brown collection.
119 pp. Howes writes: "Earliest serious study into colonial legal rights." Contents of the 'Appendix' is not present at end, but 15 blank sheets bound-in at end, after a one-page J. Sheppard publisher's advertisement -- just enough pages which would have accomodated the intended [29 pp.] Appendix, with the two speeches by Camden and Chatham, which the full title page promises.
This particular copy includes a number of sheets from the intended appendix, which while, present, are bound-in extremely randomly. Despite being consecutively numbered by the (intoxicated or o'ertaken with an anger-against-his-employer issue?) printer/binder, there are but 29 lines from Letter II, and the rest of this missing.
Of that bibliographically-described Appendix, Adams writes that it "may" have been issued separately (See esp. 66-15b, and
68-7c) with separate titlepage, pagination and registered as 'An Appendix'."
Two prefaces by Benjamin Franklin in this copy. The first, a piece referred to on the title page as "Preface by the
Dublin editor", is entitled: "The Editor's Preface". It also appeared in the first of the two London editions. The second,
immediately following, is entitled "The British Editor to the Reader", and is signed "N.N."
Dicksinson's letters were originally published in The Pennsylvania Chronicle (in the Dec. 2., 1767 through February 15, 1768 issues), immediately reprinted in the issues of the Pennsylvania Journal and Pennsylvania Gazette, republished in many newspapers throughout the thirteen colonies, and then began to appear in pamphlet form. Eight editions as pamphlets are known to have been printed in America -- 3 in Philadelphia, 2 in Boston, 1 in New York,and 1 in Williamsburg. Two editions were also published in London and (this) one in Dublin. No copies having showed up in reporting auctions as far back as 1877 (see Rare Book Hub). ESTC reports but two copies in North America, (Library of Congress, and the other at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College. The Swarthmore copy, by the way, is printed in proper format, with the two speeches in appendix at rear), and six copies in the British Isles. Good. Item #79582
"In twelve essays widely read in colonial newspapers and soon printed as a pamphlet, John Dickinson urged firmer American resistance to Britain’s increased restrictions and bemoaned the complacency exhibited by Americans after the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. Perhaps the hated stamp tax was history, but Parliament had passed new laws and begun to enforce existing laws that would become as reviled as the Stamp Act.
First, in the Declaratory Act of 1766, Parliament affirmed its authority to legislate for the colonies and “bind the colonies and people of America . . . in all cases whatsoever.” ... Then, with the Townshend Acts of 1767, Parliament placed “direct” taxes on specific British goods, a first in the commercial relationship between Britain and the American colonies. Finally, when the New York assembly failed to fully comply with Quartering Act of 1765, which required colonial authorities to house British troops in unoccupied buildings and furnish them with food and supplies, Parliament suspended the power of the assembly until it complied in full. (The Quartering Act is the prime reason for the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)
The son of a prominent Quaker family, John Dickinson (1732-1808) was born on his family’s tobacco plantation in Maryland. A lawyer and colonial legislator, he served in the First and Second Continental Congresses but refused to sign the Declaration of Independence because he believed the colonies were not ready to sever themselves from Great Britain. Nonetheless, he fought against the British as an officer in the Pennsylvania Militia and after the Revolution played a significant role in the life of the nation. (National Humanities Center: Making The Revolution: America 1763-1791)
These letters are among the most significant of American colonial pamphlets. At the end of the 'To the Reader" page signed 'N.N.' a footnote identifies the Author as John Dickinson, Esquire, barrister. While acknowledging the power of Parliament in matters concerning the whole British Empire, Dickinson argued that the colonies were sovereign in their internal affairs. He thus argued that taxes laid upon the colonies by Parliament for the purpose of raising revenue, rather than regulating trade, were unconstitutional. In Letter III, he states 'If at length it becomes undoubted that an inveterate resolution is formed to annihilate the liberties of the governed, the English history affords frequent examples of resistance by force.
Dickinson's Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania have been credited with uniting the American colonists in opposition to the Townshend Acts and advancing a popular logic for self-governance that helped lead to the American Revolution. The author, John Dickinson (1732-1808), was not so much a typical "farmer" as a wealthy plantation owner and lawyer. Although his Letters earned him the nickname "The Penman of the Revolution," he was much more than that, serving as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress and as a militia officer in the Revolution. He also drafted the Articles of Confederation, under which he served as President (Governor) of Delaware and Pennsylvania. In addition, Dickinson helped draft the U.S Constitution, which he rallied support for with another series of essays under the pen name Fabius, and wrote the majority of the Delaware Constitution of 1792.