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January 1776 Pennsylvania Magazine, Edited by Thomas Paine, Including Much Revolutionary War Political and Military Content
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Benedict Arnold’s bravery in the failed American attack on Canada; America’s chief medical officer Dr. Benjamin Church’s treason; an account of the burning of Norfolk, Virginia; anti-slavery piece written by Paine, etc.

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. Pamphlet. Pennsylvania Magazine: or American Monthly Museum. For January 1776. Philadelphia: R. Aitken, [February 7, 1776]. [9]-52 (44pp.), lacking first two leaves, incl. title, 5¼ x 8¼ in.

Inventory #23750.03       Price: $1,500

The Magazine, edited by Thomas Paine, contains articles on the “Computations of the Extent of, and Number of Inhabitants in, the several Kingdoms and States of Europe,” “Reflections on the New Year,” and an “Account of a surprising Serpent.”  An article quoting from and commenting in depth on “The Dying Negro: an Epistle from a Black to his intended wife”, has been identified as having been written by Paine.  In closing, he points to a passage in the poem “in which the Negro sympathetically describes the accumulated wrongs of his wretched countrymen, betrayed or sold into perpetual slavery, to labour in hopeless misery for the wealth and luxury of Christians; which, by this horrible traffic, renounce not only every pretension to humanity, but all plea for acceptance with that Universal Parent...” (pp. 33-38).

In Poetical Essays, there is an “Elegy on the Death of Phibba a famous cook” (buried in the Negros burying-ground): “Oft, in your soup, ye gluttons drop a tear, And think, oh think! how richly once you fed. ... So may your lives in busy practice pass, Intemperance reign and new diseases rise! May Hypocondriacs think your + [Cadogan]+  foe an ass, And gouty patients all his works despise!” (p. 42). The “Bachelor’s Wish” starts: “Let others praise a beauteous face The features of the fair; I look for spirit in her eyes And meaning in her air. ...” Pages 44-45 prints with illustration “An easy Method of Distilling Fresh water from Salt water at Sea.”

Along with “Monthly Intelligence” regarding:

- An address in the House of Lords criticizing the Americans: “With the utmost abhorrence and indignation we see the real design of those desperate men, who, by the grossest misrepresentations, have deluded and precipitated our unhappy fellow-subjects in America, into measures no less subversive of their own happiness and true interests, than dangerous to the sagely and prosperity of Great Britain....” (pp. 46-47).

- From Cambridge, Jan 4, 1776, “Copy of Dr. Benjamin Church’s Traitorous Letter to an Officer in Boston.”  Excerpt: “Even though they had formed the resolution, as I before hinted, of fortifying Bunker’s hill; which, together with the cowardice of the clumsy Col Gerrith, and Col. Scammon, were the lucky occasion of their defeat.  This affair happened before my return from Philadelphia. We lost 165 killed then, and since dead of their wounds: 120 now lay wounded, their chief will recover: They boast you have 1400 killed and wounded in that action. You say the rebels lost 1500, I suppose with equal truth. The people of Connecticut are raving in the cause of liberty... Make use of every precaution, or I perish.” Dr. Benjamin Church (1734 – 1778) was the Chief Physician & Director General of the  Continental Army’s Medical Service from July to October 1775. He was prominent in the Boston’s Sons of Liberty movement before the war. Through the interception of the letter published here, Church was found to have been sending secret information to General Thomas Gage, the British commander, and was tried and convicted of “communicating with the enemy.” (See for more details). (pp. 49-50.)

- A January 2, 1776, eyewitness account of the Burning of Norfolk, Virginia. “The cannonade of the town began about a quarter after three yesterday, from upwards of one hundred pieces of cannon, and continued till near ten at night, without intermission. Under cover of their guns they landed and set fire to the town in several places near the water, though our men strove to prevent them all in their power, but the houses near the water being chiefly of wood; they took fire immediately, and the fire spread with amazing rapidity.”  Much more of Tory Lord Dunmore’s treacherous attack. (p. 50).

- The Attack on Quebec by Gen. Richard Montgomery and Col. Benedict Arnold.  Two letters from Canada, published by order of Congress, give almost two pages of action reading followed by casualties.  Montgomery was killed in the attack and Arnold’s leg splintered by a shot. “In the mean while Col. Arnold, at the head of about three hundred and fifty of those brave troops (who with unparalleled fatigue, and penetrated Canada under his command... In this attack, Col. Arnold had the misfortune to have his leg splintered by a shot, and was obliged to be carried to the hospital...” (pp. 50-51).

- Report from Long Island that Col. Heard and a detachment of minutemen captured some of the principal Tories in Queen’s County, and put the others to flight.

And a report of a meeting of the London Association, Liberty of the Press.

With two illustrations: “Representation of a Furnace for obtaining Sulphur by Distallation;” and “Sketch of an apparatus contrived on board a ship for making Sea-water Fresh.”

For the plate: Lewis: A Guide to Engravings in American Magazines, 1741-1810.


Lacking first two leaves, incl. title; stitching holes with strings lost; large uncut margins.

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