First EditionPhiladelphia: Robert Aitken, 1777. ,513,pp. Modern calf, to style. Minor dampstaining, particularly toward the end of volume. Custom chemise and slipcase.
Provenance: Samuel McGraw Gunn (ink inscription dated 1822).
This volume of the Journals of Congress is one of the rarest of the series issued from 1774 to 1788. It covers the exciting events of 1776, culminating with the Declaration of Independence on July 4, an early printing of which appears here, as well as all of the other actions of Congress for the year. It is thus a vital document in the history of American independence and the American Revolution. On September 26, 1776, Congress had authorized printer Robert Aitken to produce a uniform edition of their Journals. Aitken combined the Journals of the First and Second Continental Congresses of 1774 and 1775 (originally published by Bradford in two separate volumes) into one volume, to form Volume I of the series. The material from the first four months of 1776 was reprinted by Aitken from the monthly issues he had produced at the time strictly for the use of Congress, in an edition of eighty copies (the so called "Cartridge Paper" edition). In early 1777 he produced the rest of this volume, as Volume II of the series. This was completed in the spring or summer, and marks the first publication of the June-December 1776 Journals. According to Aitken's account, 532 copies were completed. In the fall of 1777 the British campaign under Howe forced the Congress to evacuate Philadelphia, moving first to Lancaster and then to York, Pennsylvania. The fleeing Congress took with it what it could, but, not surprisingly, was unable to remove many copies of its printed Journals, which would have been bulky and difficult to transport. Presumably, many left behind in Philadelphia were destroyed by the British, accounting for its scarcity today. The 1776 Journals record some of the most stirring moments of the Crisis of the Revolution. Much attention is devoted to the actual organization of a civil government to manage a war. On May 15, Richard Henry Lee's proposal of independence is recorded, and the concurrence of various other states appears throughout June before the formal motion was made on July 2. The Declaration of Independence appears in full on pages 241- 246. Besides this, there is a vast quantity of material of military and political importance. ANB 13:388. EVANS 15684.
[ABOVE IS MOSTLY DESCRIPTION FROM REESE MAX ASKED ME TO TAKE, BELOW IS EXTRA FROM AUCTION WE PURCHASED]
Volume I of the series comprised reprints of his "Cartridge Paper" edition, the monthly issues which covered the first four months of 1776; the present volume II included the first publication of the June-December Journals, and came off the press the following year. According to Aitken 532 copies were printed, but when Congress had to flee from Philadelphia in the autumn of 1777 Aitken's press was lost and many copies were seemingly left behind and destroyed by the British. Subsequently responsibility for publication passed to John Dunlap and David Claypoole, and the former printed a second issue of the volume at York-town in 1778. Few complete copies of Aitken's issue are known: auction records list only three, each of which was part of the complete run of 13 volumes.The volume records some of the most tumultuous events of the Revolution, and the text of the Declaration appears in full, with the names of the signers, on pages 241-246. On 18 January 1777 it was declared to be the authentic text by a vote of the Congress (including Jefferson), and there are numerous variations between this and the Dunlap broadsides.