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“Unite or Die” Masthead Paper with Great Revolutionary War Content
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the greatest duty you can discharge to your country, will be to follow the directions of that respectable body, which you chose to be the guardian of your liberty....

The excellent Revolutionary War content starts with the masthead. Benjamin Franklin first created the image of a snake dissected into separate segments to illustrate the disunity of the thirteen colonies during the French and Indian War, and published it in his Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. Twenty years later, Philadelphia printers William Bradford and his son Thomas Bradford resurrected the image for the cause of Independence and featured it in the masthead of The Pennsylvania Journal from July 12, 1774, through October 18, 1775. The Bradfords added a ninth segment to the tail of the snake to represent Georgia, which Franklin had not done. In both iterations, the New England states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were represented by a single segment. At the time of this issue and for five more months, Delaware was a part of Pennsylvania.

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Journal; and the Weekly Advertiser, January 11, 1775 (No. 1675). Philadelphia: William and Thomas Bradford. 4 pp., 10⅛ x 16⅛ in.

Inventory #26144       Price: $7,500

This issue opens with news from Europe, including a report from London of the receipt of letters from Boston “of the most alarming nature. They assert, that the inhabitants of Boston, and of the province of Massachusetts Bay, are now in arms.... It is very strange, and must very soon excite more than astonishment, that those men are continued in office, who have brought the public affairs to this horrid situation.” (p1/c2) Another excerpt from London declares: “No less than ten Acts of Parliament have been made to teaze and persecute the Americans, since the accession of George the Third.” (p1/c2)

More from London:

Advice to Administration with respect to America.

Let authority give way to prudence; dignity is supported best by justice; the bread of at least one hundred thousand manufacturers is of more importance than a shadowy authority; the lives of our fellow subjects descended from ourselves, and though born in a distant climate, are dear to us.” (p2/c1)

General Gage, it is said, has received orders not to proceed to extremities, but to act upon the defensive, till the sense of the new Parliament relative to the conduct of the Bostonians be finally known.” (p2/c2)

On the present State of America.

The resistance which the whole continent of North America has with one hand and voice shewn to the measures pursued last sessions, in relation to Massachusetts Bay and Boston, must have convinced administration at least, that settling the colonies will be a work of more time, and greater extent, than was at first imagined: To prove this, we have nothing to suppose but a continuation of the present conduct of America, till this country finds itself involved in a war with France and Spain: What will then be the consequence of such a dispute? To suppose that an army is to garrison Boston, and a fleet block up the port, with the flame of discord and fury blazing through two thousand miles of a country at a time when the whole empire will feel the sharp necessity of unlimited union to repel common enemies:... This will, beyond doubt, be the turn of our American politics; and I shall venture to assert, that it must be attended with almost as many inconveniences as the very contrary conduct; since it must infallibly end in the establishment of American liberty. It will be a conduct not adopted through choice and reflection, but laid hold on as the only refuge in a storm; it will be a conduct of expedients;... All we have to hope for is, the crisis of the whole coming before a war breaks out. This may happen, if the colonists, in their struggles for political and civil liberty, are destitute of all judgement, policy, and discretion; but if they conduct themselves with that temper, spirit, firmness, and vigour, which seem to have animated the best men among them in the present disputes; if they watch their opportunities; if they are lax when opposition cannot avail them, and spirited when vigour can command success; if they keep foreign enemies at a distance, and yet render them supports of their independence; if they conduct themselves upon these principles, they will infallibly find themselves an independent country.” (p2/c2)

From Newport-Rhode Island came the report, “We hear General Gage has sent a number of spies into the country; and we dare say, that the more he spies the less he will like to commence hostilities! We also hear, that a few of those spies have returned, and pronounced the people all over the country mad—with the spirit of liberty and military discipline!” (p2/c3)

A letter to “the Inhabitants of North America in general, and those of the Province of New-York in particular” by “A Citizen” declares “the members of the Congress, so far from basely betraying the interest of their constituents, have adopted the wisest and best mode of proceeding. Nothing now remains to be done but to follow their directions; adhere firmly to their association, and you will undoubtedly experience the happy consequences: It has been clearly proved that no better mode could have been fallen upon, than that which the Congress have proposed and recommended.... the greatest duty you can discharge to your country, will be to follow the directions of that respectable body, which you chose to be the guardian of your liberty....” (p2/c3)

When the British Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts in 1774, many American colonists viewed them as a violation of the British Constitution and a threat to the liberties of all of British North America. In response, colonists proposed economic sanctions against Great Britain in the form of non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation of goods.

On September 30, 1774, the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia appointed a committee, consisting of Thomas Cushing of Massachusetts, Isaac Low of New York, Thomas Mifflin of Pennsylvania, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, and Thomas Johnson of Maryland, to develop a plan for implementing the non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation resolves. On October 12, the committee submitted a report, and Congress debated it over the next week. On October 18, Congress approved the plan, and on October 20, the delegates signed “The Association,” a system for implementing a trade boycott with Great Britain. According to its provisions, on December 1, 1774, the American colonies would no longer import any goods from Britain, Ireland, and the British West Indies. It also threatened an export ban if Parliament did not repeal the offensive acts by September 1775.

A letter to “the inhabitants of Berks County” from the Reading, Pennsylvania, Committee of Correspondence warns, “The affairs of America grow every day more serious, and our unhappy disputes hasten to a conclusion. It becomes us now to call into exercise every public virtue, and to act as becomes men in the solemn cause of LIBERTY.... The Committee flatter themselves, that the Store-keepers and other venders of goods of this County, will most truly adhere to the Association, with regard to the price of their goods....” (p3/c2)

Additional Content
This issue also includes a notice of Benjamin Franklin’s election as president of the American Philosophical Society (p3/c2); and other items of news, notices, and advertisements, including a front-page advertisement by Robert Bell announcing an auction of books by “Authors of great excellence, both ancient and modern” (p1/c1), and three notices offering rewards for the return of runaway Irish indentured servants (p4/c2).

The Pennsylvania Journal, or, Weekly Advertiser(1742-1801) was published weekly in Philadelphia by William Bradford (1719-1791) and later his son Thomas Bradford (1745-1838), under slightly varying titles. On October 31, 1765, William Bradford published a skull and crossbones on the masthead to announce that he would stop publication rather than submit to the Stamp Act, which required newspapers to be printed on stamped and taxed paper. Like many other colonial newspapers, though, Bradford continued weekly publication in defiance of the Stamp Act. From mid-1774 to late 1775, each issue of the newspaper included a snake chopped into segments with the motto “Unite or Die” on the masthead.  When the Revolutionary War began, William Bradford joined the Pennsylvania militia, while Thomas Bradford continued to publish the newspaper. After the war, the father and son were partners in the publication, and Thomas Bradford continued the journal after his father’s death, eventually changing its name to the True American in 1801.

Condition: wax stain in upper right corner; some marginal discoloration; disbound; overall Good.


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