Allen, Ethan
REASON THE ONLY ORACLE OF MAN, OR A COMPENDIOUS SYSTEM OF NATURAL RELIGION. BENNINGTON, VT: HASWELL & RUSSELL, 1784
Estimate
10,00015,000
JUMP TO LOT
Allen, Ethan
REASON THE ONLY ORACLE OF MAN, OR A COMPENDIOUS SYSTEM OF NATURAL RELIGION. BENNINGTON, VT: HASWELL & RUSSELL, 1784
Estimate
10,00015,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana

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New York

Allen, Ethan
REASON THE ONLY ORACLE OF MAN, OR A COMPENDIOUS SYSTEM OF NATURAL RELIGION. BENNINGTON, VT: HASWELL & RUSSELL, 1784
8vo (8 3/8 x 4 7/8 in.; 212 x 124 mm). Half-title, head-piece of printer's ornaments; a few quires browned, lower margin of 3 leaves in first quire a bit short, a few marginal spots, page numbers added to Contents in ink in a contemporary hand. Contemporary sheep, gilt-stamped red morocco title label on spine; extremities rubbed, a few stains and scuff marks.
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Provenance

Inscribed on front endpaper "Boston 1811, March 1811" — Elizabeth McC. Johnson (inscription dated 1925)

Literature

Church 1201; Evans 18322; Sabin 802.

Catalogue Note

First edition. The first publication in the United States openly directed against the Christian religion.

Sabin calls this "singular book...the rarest of Allen's publications." It "is remarkable as being the first work published in America in direct opposition to the Christian religion..." Allen told a friend in 1785, "I Expect that the Clergy, and their devotees, will proclaim war with me, in the name of the Lord, his Battles they affect to fight... But I am a hardy Mountainnear, and have been accustomed to the ravages, and horrors of War, and Captivity, and Scorn to be intimidated by threats, if they fright me, they must produce some of their tremendous fire, and give me a sensitive scorching."

A fire in the publisher's shop destroyed most of the 1,500 copies printed. Mr. Haswell reportedly took the fire as a sign of divine disfavor and committed the remainder of the run to the flames, soon thereafter converting to Methodism. Scarcely any copies have survived. Only three copies have appeared at auction in the last 38 years. A copy of this Deist treatise was, of course, in Thomas Jefferson's library.

Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana

|
New York