First Edition of the Writings of the Founding Father, John Dickinson
Political Writings. of John Dickinson, Esquire, Late President of the State of Delaware and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In Two Volumes.
Wilmington: Bonsal and Niles, 1801.
DICKINSON, John. The Political Writings. of John Dickinson, Esquire, Late President of the State of Delaware and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In Two Volumes. Wilmington: Bonsal and Niles, 1801.
First edition of the first collected works by John Dickinson, a founding father and signor of the US Constitution. Two octavo volumes (7 3/4 x 4 3/4 inches; 199 x 122 mm). xvi, 416, [2, blank]; 384,  pp. With errata, and list of subscribers at the end of Volume II. The last copy we could find at auction of this first edition was in 1947.
Full contemporary tree calf, rebacked to style. Red morocco spine label. Some toning and offsetting to preliminaries. Small tear to front blank of volume I. Small ink notes to front and back pastedown of volume I. Previous owner's bookplate on top of an earlier label on front blank of each volume. The same owner's old ink signature dated 1852 on the same page. Another previous owner's old ink signature dated 1811 on title-page of each volume. Housed in a marbled paper slipcase. Overall a very good set.
The importance of Dickinson's writings can be felt in the impressive list of subscribers at the back of volume II including Thomas Jefferson (listed as President), Aaron Burr (3 copies, listed as Vice President), James Madison (secretary of state), Albert Gallatin (secretary of the treasury), Henry Dearborn (secretary of war), Robert Smith (secretary of the navy), Levi Lincoln (attorney general), Gideon Grainger (postmaster general), James Munroe (governor of Virginia), James Calhoun (mayor of Baltimore), George Clinton (governor of New York), and General Horatio Gates are all listed. This work includes Dickinson's important Farmer's Letters.
“John Dickinson's most famous writings have their genesis with the Revenue Act of 1764 that raised duties on sugar. This prompted the Philadelphia lawyer and wealthy landowner to defend the ancient constitution of England against what were seen as arbitrary action from central government. Soon after, in response to the proposed Stamp Act, the so-called Stamp Act Congress met in New York City during October, 1766. There, Dickinson drafted fifteen proposals to which the gathering agreed, most of them condemning the proposed legislation as unconstitutional. As is well known, the Stamp Act was repealed after only four months of unsuccessful operation. Still, more acts of the Parliament in London continued to inflame the political life of the colonies. Prominent among these were the Declaratory Act, which asserted royal supremacy, and the new Revenue Act of 1767, which extended duties on other goods besides sugar. Special danger seemed inherent in the Townsend Acts which, among other things, threatened the integrity of the New York legislature. Dickinson once again put his prodigious learning and profound respect for the British Constitution to work in order to request redress for unconstitutional wrongs, this time to remarkable effect. His twelve Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies began to appear in the Pennsylvania Chronicle and Universal Advisor on December 2, 1767, under the simple pseudonym "a Farmer." Using constitutional argument laced with political economy, Dickinson sought to persuade everyone who read his words, on either side of the Atlantic, of both the economic folly and the unconstitutionality of ignoring the rights of Englishmen living in the American Colonies. The letters first appeared in the newspapers over a period of ten weeks in late 1767 and early 1768“ (J.Osborne).
Howes D331. Sabin 20048.