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77

Adams, John | First complete edition of Adams's most powerful political discourse

Adams, John | First complete edition of Adams's most powerful political discourse

Adams, John | First complete edition of Adams's most powerful political discourse

Adams, John

A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America. London: Printed for C. Dilly (vol. 1) and C. Dilly and John Stockdale (vols. 2 & 3), 1787–1788


3 volumes, 8vo (210 x 127 mm). Half-title in vol. 2 only; light foxing in vol. 1, most prevalent in quires N–P, short tear on bottom margin of 1:U8 not affecting text or catchword, 1:Cc2–4 lightly stained in upper outer corners. Half calf antique over marbled boards, burgundy morocco lettering piece.


First complete edition of Adams's most powerful political discourse. While Minister to the Court of St. James, he wrote this work on constitutional theory in response to the liberal French statesman Turgot, who had criticized the new American state constitutions for their conservative economic framework. It was first issued as a single volume in 1787, in time to be consulted by the members of the Constitutional Convention, and then was followed with the second and third volumes.


"Adams bestowed more thought on the nature of government … than any of his contemporaries … [It is a] work marked by insight, breadth of views, conviction, courage, and—we may venture to add—much wisdom … " (Larned, Literature of American History 2287).

 

REFERENCE:

ESTC T143995 (vol. 1) and N521 (3 vols.); Howes A60; Sabin 234; see also Will Slauter, "Constructive Misreadings: Adams, Turgot, and the American State Constitutions" in The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 105:1 (2011): 33-67

Condition as described in catalogue entry.


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