Description

    James Wilson: A Signed Volume from the Library of the Declaration of Independence Signer. Abbe Raynal (translated by J. Justamond): A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans of the West Indies, Volume Two (of five), (London: T. Cadell, 1777), third edition, hardcover, calf, 596 pages, 5.5" x 8.25". Clearly signed on the title page in ink, James Wilson. Wilson was a Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Pennsylvania. In 1789, he became one of the original nine justices appointed by Washington to the Supreme Court. This book created a sensation when it was first issued - anonymously - in 1770; in the next decades it was brought out in dozens of editions in various languages and became one of the most widely read political texts of the day. The controversy that surrounded the book arose, in the words of one commentator, its "treatment of religion and its advocacy of the popular right to consent to taxation and to revolt...Its sometimes incendiary treatment of the slave trade became canonical in the debate over abolition that it did much to spur." Trumping all other brickbats the book might have suffered was the ultimate Seal of Disapproval: The Catholic Church placed it on the notorious Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the list of officially banned books that "endangered" the faith. (The intellectual Wilson was himself an Anglican/Episcopalian, and thus must have felt quite unconcerned by the Pope's decree). That Wilson owned and read this book is particularly interesting in light of his central, rabble-rousing role in forging a new nation - and in the light of the Founding Fathers' failure to extend the liberty they prized so highly to the slaves they themselves owned. The book retains its original bound-in folding map of North America, South America, and Africa, itself an item of considerable interest and scarcity. House in a deluxe custom box and slipcase. In very good condition, with rubbing and edge wear, chipping to spine ends, some mild foxing and spotting, and front cover detached but present; an excellent candidate for modest restoration.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2006
    12th-13th Thursday-Friday
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