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Declaration of Independence — One of First English Printings, Boldly Publishing Complete Unadulterated Text
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“A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people”

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. Book. The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure. August 1776. London: John Hinton, [early September, 1776]. Pp 57-111 plus plate. 5 x 8½. Disbound.

Inventory #23642       Price: $3,900

The Declaration, signed in type by John Hancock, appears under “American Intelligence” in vol. 59, on pages 91-93. It is printed between “Fable of Mr. Foote’s New Comedy, called the Capuchin acted for the first Time on Monday, August 19” and love verses headed “The British Muse: Containing original Poems, Songs, & C.”

Prior to independence, American protests had been directed at the actions of Parliament, and royal ministers. That all changed with the Declaration of Independence, a substantial part of which is a bill of particular offenses committed by the King against American Freedoms. Some in the British press were uncomfortable printing it as such. The words in our excerpt below are printed here, while Gentleman’s Magazine printed the first letter and left the rest of the word blank. London Magazine intentionally omitted entire sentences.

“The history of the present King of Great Britain, is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations; all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”

“...obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither…”

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws;”

“In every stage of these Oppressions we have petitioned for redress, in the most humble terms; our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people”

Interestingly, the Declaration does not appear in the magazine’s index, but this response does.

Offered with July and September to December issues, all formerly bound together, with remnants of spine. Includes frontispieces, engraved titles, several engraved plates. The text is complete (but for the final page of the Supplement at year end). However, most plates and maps were removed.  The condition is poor, but we thought it would still be worth keeping with the issue containing the Declaration.    

Relevant content includes an installment of “A Concise History of the Origin of Progress of the present unhappy Disputes between Great-Britain and the American Colonies.” (p 225-228) The British respond with the “answer in part to their declaration” on page 242.

“I perceive, among many other extraordinary Charges of the Congress, in their Declaration, against his present Majesty, the following singular Assertion:

‘He has excited domestic Insurrections among us and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare is undistinguished Destruction of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions….’”


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