Early Americana Catalog, Page 2

Presented for sale by Phil Barber, Cambridge, Mass. 02139 Telephone (617) 492-4653

Catalog Page 5
British Perspectives on Early America

I am pleased to be able to present in this catalog a grouping of British newspapers and magazines selected for their reporting of events or personalities in America. The earliest British newspapers are a treasury of early American news in the years before there was an American press. The issues printed during our War of Independence offers an affordable alternative to the very rare and valuable peridicals prinetd in Amercia during the conflict.

American news was generally sympathetically reported in all but the most conservative Tory newspapers, as Britons were waging the fight for liberty at home at the same time as the colonies were preparing for war with the motherland. The exaggerated claims of rebel propagandists -and there were many- were soundly corrected, however, in contemporary British journals; reading these articles today offers most interesting perspective on the Colonies' actual relations with Britain and how the ultimate separation was engineered.

Later newspapers reflect the continuing fascination of Britons with their rustic cousins as they embarked on the radical experiment in liberal democracy that then was the United States. They continued to marvel at America's successes and unprecedented growth and prosperity.

All items in this catalog are unconditionally guaranteed to be genuine and accurately described. Each catalog entry is briefly described for its general appearance, historical significance, and content. Every one contains hours of additional historic reading and insights into the world preserved on its pages, much more than I could find the space to describe here.

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Benjamin Franklin Spoofs the Bible: A Rare British Newspaper Printing

E5-001. [SINGLE ISSUE] THE St. JAMES CHRONICLE, or THE BRITISH EVENING-POST, April 21, 1764. [Complete issue of 4 pages, folio size, published at London, England, by Henry Baldwin]
Benjamin Franklin's famed homily, the "The Parable of Persecution", is here printed in full in its original form, cast as Chapter 27 of the Book of Genesis, beginning, "And it came to pass after these things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent, about the going down of the sun. And behold a man, bowed with age, came from the way of the wilderness, leaning on a staff... " It is introduced by a man signing himself W.S. as the work of "a Friend from North-America, as well known throughout Europe for his ingenious discoveries... his Sagacity, his Usefulness and Activity.. and his Acquaintance with Every Virtue.."
ALMOST CERTAINLY the first appearance in print of Franklin's famous appeal for tolerance for all religious beliefs, cast as a "bagatelle" or satire, a literary form well-employed by Franklin. Like most Americans of the Enlightenment era, Franklin rejected revealed religion and embraced a moderate form of Deism. He maintained a lively interest in the world's faiths, being more attracted to their ethical precepts than interested in their dogmas. In his later years, he came to often quote the Presbyterian understanding of Christian faith, in which he had been raised.
This tale was not printed until 1774 in book format, under the auspices of Lord Kames; click here for an online history of that edition, as recounted by Franklin. It was next seen in print in 1793, in Franklin's posthumous autobiography. An account of this remarkable tale, and its derivation from a Persian story, may be read online at American Thumbprints. Quite exceptional appearance in print of an important work of the most widely respected American of his generation. Crane & Kaye (no. 800) locate a single example of this newspaper in all the libraries in the U.S.
Condition of this issue is very fine but closely trimmed at the top margin and some minor mended fold line wear, due to the very unusual circumstance of this issue having been bound sideways into a quarto volume . . . 495.00

Special Opportunity For Inexpensive Revolutionary War Era Newspapers!
E5-003. THE LONDON CHRONICLE, atmosphere issue dated 1780. [Complete issue of 8 pages, 4to size, published at London, England, by James Wilkie]
One of the leading newspapers of Georgian London, this fine tri-weekly contains news, politics, and opinion of all kinds. I note mainly passing references to the war in America. By this sixth year of fighting, the English public had become quite disenchanted with the endless, pointless, and apparently unwinnable guerrilla war, and it was not as well reported as it was in the heady days of 1775 and 1776. Much of the war news focuses on the battles at sea with the fleets of the American insurgency's allies, the Dutch, the Spanish, and most of all the French, England's traditional and much hated arch-enemy. Indeed for many years, our War of Independence was known in England as the "War with France, Spain, and Holland in America". Many Britons admired the insurgents' valiant struggle to cast off the restrictions of imperial hegemony, and equally despised George III's arrogant Ministers and their unjust policies.
The issues I present here have been quite closely cropped at the top margin, losing some of the heading and/or text. I believe they were rescued from a long-ago fire and carefully trimmed and rebound. The scan below is representative of their condition, which is otherwise quite fine. They have the customary partial red Threepenny royal tax stamps, of the sort that sparked revolution on this side of the Atlantic. Because of their condition I offer them (about 25 are available) at less than a quarter of their normal price, just, per issue . . . 9.95
The tax stamp reminds us that the American Colonies had been exempt since 1690 from taxes paid by other Britons, in order to stimulate their fledgling economies - an early and rather more successful version of today's neo-conservative "trickle-down" theory. Britain had very nearly gone bankrupt fighting the French and Indian War, which was largely about protecting the American Colonies' western borders from depradations by, well, Frenchmen and Indians. British attempts in the 1760's to compell the now-prosperous colonies pay their fair share of the enormous costs of their own defense was done with such a heavy hand that it provoked a rebellion that would profoundly alter the course of human history.
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