A Scarce Record of Thomas Dorr’s Trial for Treason
After His Failed Revolt
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:
JOSEPH S. PITMAN. [DORR WAR].
Book. Report of the Trial of Thomas Wilson Dorr, for Treason; Including the Testimony at Length...Together with the Sentence of the Court, and the Speech of Mr. Dorr Before Sentence. Providence, R.I., B.F. Moore, 1844. 1st ed., 115 pp., 5 1/3 x 8¾ in.
Based on Rhode Island’s colonial charter, over half of adult males were disenfranchised. Thomas W. Dorr led the effort to change Rhode Island’s political system and expand voting rights. After trying to change the system internally, he created the People’s Party, held an extralegal constitutional convention, and set up a competing government. The Rhode Island General Assembly drafted a rival constitution, and in 1842, both groups voted on their respective Constitutions. Both Dorr and sitting Governor Samuel Ward King were elected governor, but King refused to accept the People’s Constitution, declared martial law, and accused Dorr of treason. While he did not attempt to seize the State House or governmental institutions, a few armed clashes did occur. Dorr fled the state, but returned and was convicted in 1843 but released for health reasons two years later. Ultimately, Rhode Island greatly liberalized voting rights in the aftermath of the rebellion. This trial record, prepared by his defense attorneys, is especially scarce. R & B 44-2044. Sabin 20649.
Very good. Original printed front wrapper, bound into old boards. Front board loose but holding. Providence Athenaeum Gift of Deborah H. Philbrick bookplate on front pastedown, Providence County Sheriff Hunter Carson White’s bookplate on verso of half-title. Deaccessioned.