The Crisis. London: for the author, by T.W. Shaw, 21 January 1775 – 12 October 1776
91 issues in one volume, small folio (12 x 7 1/8 in.; 305 x 180 mm). Occasional printer's ornaments, caption titles, issues 1–91 plus the unnumbered issue of 9 August 1775; first and last leaves creased, dampstain in lower edge of last leaf, occasional marginal soiling or edge staining from binding. Contemporary calf over marbled boards, spine gilt, gilt-stamped red leather title label on spine, in a blue half-morocco drop-box; upper cover detached, head and foot of spine chipped, corners worn.
First editions, and a complete set of this rare weekly periodical, which was reprinted at the same time in America. Published between January 1775 and October 1776, the serial attempted to join Britain and the American colonies in a transatlantic community of protest. It did so more stridently than virtually anything printed either in the colonies or elsewhere in the London press. King George III, his chief ministers, and their supporters in parliament were all fair game for its caustic commentary. The 4 February 1775 number attacked the King, and the House of Lords prosecuted the publisher Samuel Axtell for seditious and treasonable libel against the King, ordering that the paper be burned (though radical crowds tried to extinguish the flames, see Poole).
It condemned their imperial policy as self-destructive and their treatment of the Americans as foolishly shortsighted. It condoned American resistance to what it characterized as tyrannical policies and called on Britons to beware that what began as oppression of the colonies could end up threatening rights on their own side of the Atlantic as well. Even so, the men behind The Crisis hoped for a solution to the problems of empire within it, not outside it, and their ardour for the Patriot cause cooled once Revolutionary Americans declared independence. The serial closed when their differences with American Revolutionaries became too obvious to deny.
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