First printing of John Hancock's oration given on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre[John Hancock] First Printing of An Oration; Delivered March 5th, 1774, at the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston; to commemorate the Bloody Tragedy of the Fifth of March, 1770. By the Honourable John Hancock, Esq. Boston: Edes and Gill, 1774. Textually complete with twenty pages, 5.75" x 9". Heavy mourning borders on the front wrapper and around the title page.
An introductory page reads in part: "At a Meeting of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, duly assemble at Faneuil-Hall . . . on Saturday the Fifth of March, Anno Domini, 1774. Upon a Motion made, Voted Unanimously, That the Thanks of the Town be and hereby are given to the Honorable John Hancock, Esq; for the elegant and spirited Oration delivered by him at the Request, in Commemoration of the horrid Massacre perpetrated on the Evening of the 5th of March, 1770, by a Party of Soldiers of the XXIXth Regiment." The names of seven committee members follow, including Samuel Adams, Benjamin Church, and John Adams. A printed note by Hancock, along with a printed Hancock signature, ends the page: "The unanimous Request of the Town of Boston, constrains me, against my private Inclination, to yield to a Publication of this Performance."
To commemorate the Boston Massacre on its fourth anniversary, fiery patriot John Hancock delivered this significant speech at a Boston town meeting. The Boston Tea Party had occurred only months earlier in Boston (December 1773), making Hancock's speech more poignant. The speech angered the British government and loyalists with its inflammatory statements, such as, "Let every parent tell the shameful story to his listening children 'till tears of pity glisten in their eyes, and boiling passions shake their tender frames". Some question if Hancock, an influential member of the General Court in 1774, actually wrote the oration. They credit Samuel Cooper, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Church, and Joseph Warren as co-authors. The lower margin is discolored throughout, though the text is easily legible. Toned wrappers have detached. Two holes exist on the front wrapper, one resulting in the loss of the "O" in "Oration".
Reference: Sabin 30177.
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