18 February 2010
Revolt against the English
Yesterday, I did a short 'show and tell' for a visitor from Rhode Island. This included some early Providence printing, Thomas Jefferson's inscribed copy of Notes on Virginia (which was also owned by Henry Stevens, the nineteenth century book dealer and gunpowder merchant, who bought for both the British Museum and John Carter Brown), and a collection of colonial female printers to tie in with a recent acquisition of a letterpress facsimile of the Declaration of Independence.
We also looked at some of the large collection of pamphlets dating from the American Revolution, many of which were printed in several editions - in New York, Pennsylvania, Boston, but also by sympathetic printers in Britain, such as J. Almon in London, and also in Edinburgh.
One of these particularly caught our eye. To some extent, it may be counted as an official publication - Abstract of the Resolutions of the General Congress Assembled at Philadelphia (New York, reprinted Edinburgh 1775) [8176.a.38]. It begins thus
THE CONGRESS RESOLVES to acknowledge the King,
But not to obey him in any one thing...
We sometimes wish all government documents were as iambic and rhyming. This, however, originated in the New York Gazette, and is a tory account of the Continental Congress in verse - or 'Dogrel Metre, for the help of weak memories' (p. 1).