Description

    Early English Printing of
    the Declaration of Independence

    [Declaration of Independence]. The Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politics, and Literature, of the Year 1776. The Second Edition. London: Printed for J. Dodsley, 1779. Second edition (first published in 1777). Octavo (8.875 x 5.75 inches; 225 146 x mm.). iv, 112, *113-192*, 113-270, [1, fly-title for "Characters"], [1, blank]; 259, [9, contents] pages. Signatures: [pi]2 A-G8 *H-*M8 H-R8; B-I8. Text in double columns. Woodcut vignette on title-page;

    Uncut, in its original binding of quarter sheep over drab paper-covered boards. Spine with five raised bands and remains of paper label. The binding is quite worn, with several areas of surface loss to both spine and boards; loss of spine leather at head and tail of spine. A few leaves poorly opened. Leaves N2-N7 (pages 195-206) partially sprung; Q8 (pages 255/256) separated from its conjugate and loosely inserted. Some foxing and browning; browning and fraying to uncut edges. E8 (pages 79/80) with one-and-three-quarter-inch tear from lower edge, just entering text (no loss); a few additional short marginal tears or paper flaws, including a small piece folded back on title. Small hole in text on A8 (pages 15/16), with loss of a couple of letters. Small printed piece of paper adhered to outer margin of page 51. Staining to H1-H3 (pages 113-118) and faintly to adjacent pages (192* and 119). Early ink signature in lower corner of title-page: "G Schantz / [and in different ink] Judge / Advo[cate]." Ink and pencil manicules in outer margin of a few pages. A very good, large copy, totally unsophisticated.


    More Information:

    An announcement of the Declaration of Independence appears in the "History of Europe" section notes (page *165, at "July 4th."): "The fatal day at length arrived, which, (however the final consequences may be) must be deeply regretted by every true friend to this empire, when thirteen English colonies in America, declared themselves free and independent states, abjured all allegiance to the British crown, and renounced all political connection with this country. Such are the unhappy consequences of civil contention. Such the effects that may proceed from too great a jealousy of power on the one side, or an ill-timed doubt of obedience on the other. The declaration has been seen by every body; it contains a long catalogue of grievances, with not fewer invectives; and is not more temperate in stile or composition, than it is in act."

     

    On page 158 of the "Chronicle" (at July 3d.) is the following report of the Declaration of Independence being read publicly: "The declaration of independence, issued by the Continental Congress, was read at the head of each brigade of the continental army, posted at and near New-York, and every where received with loud huzzas, &c.; and the same evening the equestrian statue of his Majesty, which had been erected in the year 1770, was laid prostrate on the ground, and the lead of it destined to serve as bullets. The same declaration was read pretty much about the same time, in almost every other town of the united colonies, and every where received with equal demonstrations of joy." In fact, the Declaration of Independence was first read publicly on July 8, in Philadelphia, Easton, Pennsylvania, and Trenton, New Jersey; and the statue of George III was toppled on July 9, after Washington had the Declaration of Independence read to his troops and the citizens of New York City.

     

    This volume also contains description of events of the Revolutionary War, including a description of the surprise erection of wooden works on Dorchester Heights on March 5, 1776 (page 148* in "History of Europe"): "Whilst the attention of the army was occupied by the firing of houses and other mischiefs incident to this new attack, they beheld with inexpressible surprize, on the morning of the 5th, some considerable works appear on the other side of the town, upon the heights of Dorchester Point, which had been erected in the preceding night, and from whence a 24 pound, and a bomb battery, were soon after opened. Some of our officers have acknowledged, that the expedition with which these works were thrown up, with their sudden and unexpected appearance, recalled to their minds those wonderful stories of enchantment and invisible agency, which are so frequent in the Eastern romances"; and the subsequent first victory of the war for George Washington (March 17, 1776, page *150 in "History of Europe") after the evacuation of the British Army from Boston: "As the rear embarked, Gen. Washington marched into the town, with drums beating, colours flying, and in all the triumph of victory."

     

    ESTC T213341. See also Sabin 1614; Lowndes (1834), page 46.

     

    "This most valuable record and chronicle of historical and political events for over a hundred years contains accurate accounts of the Revolutionary War...and many other American subjects" (Sabin).

     

    The Annual Register was created in 1758 by the publishers James and Robert Dodsley, signing a contract with Edmund Burke (1729-1797) on April 24, 1758, to write and edit the material for The Annual Register, which was conceived as an annual publication which would review the history, politics, and literature of the day. Burke continued as editor and principal contributor until 1765, when he was elected to Parliament, although he may have continued to contribute to the history section and played a significant role in overseeing its compilation until the 1790s.

     

    The sections are titled: "History of Europe" (pages [1]-112, *113-192*); "Chronicle" (113-230); "Appendix to the Chronicle" (pages 231-248); "Appendix to the Chronicle" (pages 249-251); "State Papers" (252-270); "Characters" (1-64); "Natural History" (pages 65-109); "Projects" (110- 133); "Antiquities" (pages 134-165); "Miscellaneous Essays" (166-201); "Poetry" (pages 202-235); "Account of Books for 1776" (pages 236-259); and "Contents" ([9] pages at end).

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