Description

    [Boston Massacre] Benjamin Church: An Oration Delivered March Fifth, 1773. At the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston; to Commemorate the Bloody tragedy of the Fifth of March, 1770. (Boston: [Joseph Greenleaf] Printed and sold at the New Printing Office, in Hanover-Street near Concert-Hall, 1773), first edition, 20 pages, 8vo (9.5" x 7.5"), half-titled paper wraps with full, black-bordered full-title page. Sabin 12983; Evans 12721 (var.). Foxing and toning, marginal losses and chipping. This is the first of four 1773 editions of this landmark address, delivered on the third anniversary of the Boston Massacre and nine months before the Boston Tea Party. The oration was so well received that a committee including John Hancock, James Otis, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, and other leading Boston Whigs requested a copy of the oration for publication.

    Dr. Benjamin Church (1734-1776) was a friend of Samuel Adams and had been a reliable Whig writer for some time, contributing to the Times in the late 1760s, which had been denounced for sedition by Governor Francis Bernard. At some time afterwards, Church secretly switched his allegiance but was not discovered until years later. Unaware of Church's duplicity, the leading patriots of Boston chose him to deliver this oration on the Boston Massacre. Nine months later Church would be one of the leaders of the Boston Tea Party. At the start of the war, he had been appointed surgeon-general for the colony of Massachusetts. However, in November 1775, Elbridge Gerry intercepted a series ciphered letters from Church to Governor Thomas Hutchinson, and following an examination by the Massachusetts legislature, who found Church guilty of treason and sentenced him to life in prison. In light of this powerful oration, together with his other services to the Whig cause, the revelation of his treason must have been a source of profound disappointment to his comrades. He soon fell sick and his sentence was suspended in exchange for exile; he sailed from Boston, presumably for the West Indies, but the vessel on which he took passage was never heard from again. An excellent and rare imprint.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2007
    25th-26th Thursday-Friday
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