CONTINENTAL CONGRESS - [John DICKINSON]
A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, now met in General Congress at Philadelphia, setting forth the Causes and Necessity of their Taking Up Arms ... July 6th, 1775 [caption title]
[Portsmouth: Daniel Fowle, 1775]. Broadside. (17 1/2 x 11 1/4 inches). Woodcut of Boston at head. Minor repaired separations at old folds. Matted.
Rare broadside printing of the Declaration of the Causes for Taking Up Arms, illustrated with a woodcut view of Boston.
Written by John Dickinson, based on a draft by Thomas Jefferson, issued after the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, and promulgated by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 6, 1775, the present Declaration would become a famous precursor to the Declaration of Independence. This is an extremely rare broadsheet printing, published at Portsmouth, New Hampshire by the first printer there, Daniel Fowle. The first edition printed in Philadelphia by William and Thomas Bradford was in pamphlet form. Three other single sheet editions are known, two printed in New York by John Holt, and one printed in Providence by John Carter. This Portsmouth edition was printed by Daniel Fowle, who began his printing career in Boston in 1740, but fled to New Hampshire in 1755 after being arrested for libel and sedition by the Massachusetts government. Upon his arrival in Portsmouth, he established the state's first printing press and its first newspaper, the "New Hampshire Gazette," and undertook all significant early New Hampshire printing. The Declaration was issued by the Congress three weeks after the battle of Bunker Hill and the burning of Charlestown, in defense of the armed resistance to the British forces in Massachusetts and martial law in Boston, and listed the injuries that had been inflicted upon the colonies. Even at this point, there was some small hope that a reconciliation might be possible, and the address depicts the Americans as a still potentially loyal population. Dickinson writes, "We for ten Years incessantly and ineffectually besieged the Throne as Supplicants; we reasoned, we remonstrated with Parliament in the most mild and decent Language. But Administration, sensible that we should regard those oppressive Measures as Freemen ought to do, sent over Fleets and Armies to enforce them. The Indignation of the Americans was roused it is true; but it was the Indignation of a virtuous, loyal, affectionate People ... We have not raised Armies with ambitious Designs of separating from Great Britain, and establishing independent States.-- We fight not for Glory or Conquest." Nevertheless, the numerous violations of the British and the Crown made the need for military confrontation plain: "His Troops have butchered our Countrymen; have wantonly burnt Charles-Town, besides a considerable Number of Houses in other Places; our Ships and Vessels are seized; the necessary Supplies of Provisions are intercepted and he is exerting his utmost Power to spread Devastation and Destruction around him.... We are reduced to the Alternative of chusing unconditional Submission to the Tyranny of iritated Ministers, or resistance by Force. -- The latter is our choice." Finally, in the most well known passage of the Declaration, the righteousness of the American cause is passionately and eloquently described: "Our Cause is just. Our Union is perfect. Our internal Resources are great; and if necessary, foreign Assistance is undoubtedly attainable.... With Hearts fortified with these animating Reflections, we most solemnly, before GOD and the World declare, that, exerting the utmost Energy of those Powers, which our benificent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us the Arms we have been compelled by our Enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every Hazard, with unabating Firmness and Perseverence, employ for the Preservation of our Liberties, being with one Mind resolved, to die Freemen rather than to live Slaves." This broadsheet edition of the Declaration includes a woodcut image of Boston with several Native Americans in the foreground, and with a caption in reference to the British military occupation that reads, "A View of that great and flourishing City of BOSTON, when in its purity, and out of the Hands of the Philistines." The cut bears the signature James Turner, who originally fashioned it for a 1745 issue of "The American Magazine," which was published by Fowle and Gamaliel Rogers while Fowle was still in Boston. It made its way to Portsmouth with Fowle's other printing supplies when he left Massachusetts, and was used by him in a 1759 publication as well as here. As such, this is the only version of the Declaration in which it appears. It is one of the earliest views of an American city created in the American colonies. An important work in the history of the American Revolution, ESTC records copies of this edition in only four institutions: the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the New Jersey Historical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, and the New York Public Library. OCLC notes a further copy at the Library of Congress.
American Antiquarian Society, Wellsprings of a Nation 144; American Woodcuts and Ornaments, 1046; ESTC W15198; Evans 14550; OCLC 62766350; Whittemore 184.