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The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth day of July, A.D. 1776. General Assembly PENNSYLVANIA.
The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth day of July, A.D. 1776
The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth day of July, A.D. 1776
The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth day of July, A.D. 1776

The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth day of July, A.D. 1776

Philadelphia [and Lancaster]: John Dunlap [and Francis Bailey], 1779 [but printed 1777-1781]. 18 session laws in one, small folio. (12 1/8 x 7 3/4 inches). [71], [2], [51]-177, [1], [177]-417, [1], [395]-432, [2], [459]-488pp.

Early twentieth century black morocco, spine with raised bands, lettered in gilt

The extraordinarily rare session laws from the Revolution, including the flight to Lancaster.

First editions (with the exception of the first two parts, which are second printings) of the so-called "Dunlap Laws," the excessively rare session laws of Pennsylvania passed during the Revolution and printed by John Dunlap, and in some instances Francis Bailey. Both the meetings of the Assembly, and the printing of the laws themselves, were conducted under gravely difficult conditions, as witness the displacement of the meeting (and printings) from Philadelphia to Lancaster, when the British occupied the city between September 1777 and June 1778. This collection includes all four of Dunlap and Bailey's Lancaster printings, which are the most difficult examples to find of the early Pennsylvania session laws.

The onset of the Revolution ushered in an exciting and innovative period in American politics, as states made the transition from colonial political systems to independent legislatures. New constitutions were written (Pennsylvania's being among the most radical) and new classes of men came into political office, often displacing entrenched aristocrats and men of capital. The state legislatures functioned as miniature "laboratories of democracy," as new laws were passed for governance, the raising of public money, and the training and outfitting of a military force to contribute to the Revolutionary cause. Pennsylvania's Assembly was especially noteworthy for its sharp political divisions between ardent supporters of independence and those suspected of being Loyalists. The session laws collected here document the creation of the state's new political and civic structure, spelling out the roles and responsibilities of the governor, the Assembly, and the courts, the organization of the state militia and the requirements for serving therein, the creation of taxes and other means for raising public funds, and much, much more.

This collection contains the journals of eighteen sessions of the Pennsylvania legislature representing the period from November 28, 1776 (the first meeting of the Pennsylvania General Assembly) through the fourth sitting of the Fifth General Assembly in 1781 (this last work and one other here known only in two copies). The only two comparable collections of Pennsylvania laws are those formed in the 19th century by Pennsylvania lawyer Charlemagne Tower, and one set of twenty-eight laws sold by William Reese Company (lacking one very rare imprint included here). In his catalogue of the Tower collection, noted bibliographer Charles Hildeburn called Tower's grouping of Pennsylvania laws "unequalled," and rightly so as it spanned more than 100 years and contained more than 150 separate items. Tower's collection of colonial American laws, which contained all of the Pennsylvania laws found in the present collection, was given to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1890. The collection here includes Tower's numbers 757 through 773, a complete run of Pennsylvania session laws for the years 1776 to 1781.

The present collection of eighteen session laws from 1776 to 1785 outstrips the holdings of the next nearest institutions - the Library of Congress, which has only sixteen of the titles, and the American Antiquarian Society, which holds only twelve. The next nearest after that is the University of Pennsylvania, with only seven of the titles. Of the eighteen printings of laws in this collection, two are known in only one other copy each (the fifth and last items); most other works are known in less than three, four, or six copies. It is likely that the laws were produced in very small numbers, mainly for the use of the legislators, and the earlier ones would have suffered losses in the British invasion of Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania in 1777.

Within these laws are found much of the day-to-day politics and business of running a state during the Revolution, with details of the war dominating. The very first laws establish a quorum, authorize the courts, issue Continental currency, establish a militia, and cover many military matters. By the third session the legislature had been forced to flee Philadelphia in front of the British invasion, and the next four session laws are printed in Lancaster by Francis Bailey and John Dunlap. The fourth sitting of the second General Assembly reconvened in Philadelphia on August 4, 1778. Virtually all of the laws in this period are concerned with the prosecution of the war, whether attainting traitors, organizing supplies, passing military regulations, or controlling prices. But there is much of importance besides; in January 1780 the Assembly passed "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery" as well as incorporating the American Philosophical Society. Beginning with the Fourth General Assembly in October 1779, Thomas Paine became the Clerk, and all the published laws are subscribed by him in type until September 1780.

The contents here include the following:

1) Laws Enacted in the First Sitting of the First General Assembly of Pennsylvania, which began at Philadelphia, November 28, 1776, and was continued by adjournments to March 21, 1777. Philadelphia. 1779. Evans 16427; Hildeburn 3902; Tower Collection 763.

2) Laws Enacted in the Second Sitting of the First General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, the Twelfth day of May One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven, and continued to the Nineteenth day of June in the same year. Philadelphia. 1779. Evans 16427; Hildeburn 3902; Tower Collection 763.

3) Laws Enacted in a General Assembly...held at Philadelphia the 12th day of May, 1777, and continued by adjournment to Lancaster, until the 14th day of Oct. 1777. Lancaster. 1777. Evans 15540; Hildeburn 3580; Tower Collection 757.

4) Laws Enacted in the Second General Assembly...At the Sitting which began at Lancaster on the Twenty-Seventh day of October, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven, and continued by adjournment to the Second day of January, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight. Lancaster. 1778. Evans 15968; Hildeburn 3730; Tower Collection 758.

5) Laws Enacted in the Second Sitting of the Second General Assembly...which began at Lancaster, on Wednesday, the Eighteenth day of February, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight. [Lancaster. 1778]. Evans 15969; Hildeburn 3730; Tower Collection 759.

6) Laws Enacted in the Third Sitting of the Second General Assembly...which began at Lancaster, on Wednesday the 13th day of May, 1778. [Lancaster. 1778]. Evans 15970; Hildeburn 3730; Tower Collection 760.

7) Laws Enacted in the Fourth Sitting of the Second General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, on the Fourth day of August, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight. [Philadelphia. 1778]. Evans 15971; Hildeburn 3730; Tower Collection 761.

8) Laws Enacted in the Third General Assembly...which met at Philadelphia, on Monday the Twenty-Sixth day of October, in the year of Our Lord A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight, and in the Third Year of the Independence of the United States of North-America. Philadelphia. 1778. Evans 15972; Hildeburn 3731; Tower Collection 762.

9) Laws Enacted in the Second Sitting of the Third General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, on Monday the First day of February, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Nine, and continued till Monday the Fifth day of April of the same year. [Philadelphia. 1779]. Evans 16428; Hildeburn 3901; Tower Collection 764.

10) Laws Enacted in the Third Sitting of the Third General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, on Monday the Thirtieth day of August, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Nine. [Philadelphia. 1779]. Evans 16429; Hildeburn 3901; Tower Collection 765.

11) Laws Enacted in the First Sitting of the Fourth General Assembly...which met at Philadelphia, on Monday the Twenty-Fifth day of October, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Nine. [Philadelphia. 1779]. Evans 16430; Hildeburn 3902; Tower Collection 766.

12) Laws Enacted in the Second Sitting of the Fourth General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, on Wednesday the 19th day of January, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty. [Philadelphia. 1780]. Evans 16930; Hildeburn 4016; Tower Collection 767.

13) Laws Enacted in the Third Sitting of the Fourth General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, on Wednesday the Tenth day of May, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty. [Philadelphia. 1780]. Evans 16931; Hildeburn 4016; Tower Collection 768.

14) Laws Enacted in the Fourth Sitting of the Fourth General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia on Friday the First day of September, One Thousand Eeven Hundred and Eighty. [Philadelphia. 1780]. Evans 16932; Hildeburn 4016; Tower Collection 769.

15) Laws of the First Sitting of the Fifth General Assembly...which met at Philadelphia, on Tuesday, the Twenty-Third day of October, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty. [Philadelphia. 1780]. Evans 16933; Hildeburn 4017; Tower Collection 770.

16) Laws Enacted in the Second Sitting of the Fifth General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, on Tuesday the Sixth day of February, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty and One. [Philadelphia. 1781]. The first issue, printed as pp. 395-434; a later issue bears the correct continuous pagination, pp. 419-458. Evans 17289; Hildeburn 4120; Tower Collection 771.

17) Laws Enacted in the Third Sitting of the Fifth General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, on Thursday the Twenty-Fourth day of May, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty and One. [Philadelphia. 1781]. Evans 17290; Hildeburn 4017; Tower Collection 772.

18) Laws Enacted in the Fourth Sitting of the Fifth General Assembly...which commenced at Philadelphia, on Tuesday, the Fourth day of September, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-One. [Philadelphia. 1781]. Evans 17291; Hildeburn 4120; Tower Collection 773.

A remarkable collection of rare and important Revolutionary era Pennsylvania laws.

Item #28962

Price: $25,000.00