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A SERMON PREACHED BEFORE HIS EXCELLENCY FRANCIS BERNARD, ESQ; GOVERNOR, THE HONORABLE HIS MAJESTY'S COUNCIL, AND THE HONORABLE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, OF THE PROVINCE OF MASSACHUSETTS-BAY IN NEW-ENGLAND, MAY 29th 1765. BEING THE ANNIVERSARY FOR THE ELECTION OF HIS MAJESTY'S COUNCIL FOR THE PROVINCE
Boston: Printed by Green and Russell, 1765. 59pp. Half title. Modern half morocco and marbled boards. Light, even tanning. Very good. First printing of this powerful and important sermon, delivered to the leaders of the Massachusetts government in the wake of the Stamp Act. A London edition followed later the same year. Eliot was pastor of Boston's Congregationalist New North Church, and on the surface his sermon seems to be simply a consideration of the qualities of a good ruler, the conditions that make for a peaceful polity, and the duties of the people to their rulers. Upon closer examination, his sermon is a thorough and forceful elucidation of then-current American theories of natural rights and self-government. Alluding to the Stamp Act, Eliot says: "There is nothing that affects men more than when you touch their interest; people in general find it hard to procure the conveniences of life; nothing will sooner alienate their minds from government, than when rulers needlessly deprive them of that which they have dearly earn'd, and wantonly dissipate the public treasures. Rulers ought ever to proceed in this part of their duty with caution and prudence...." He goes on to say that it is never too late for rulers to right the wrongs they have done to the people. However, if said rulers do not act in an enlightened manner and right their wrongs, and instead show that they are "grossly of a contrary character, and pervert their power to tyrannical purposes; submission, if it can be avoided, is so far from being a duty, that it is a crime. It is an offence against the state of which we are members, and whose happiness we ought to prefer to our chief joy. It is an offence against mankind, whose rights we meanly betray." Bernard Bailyn praises Eliot's sermon, writing that it infused the increasingly widespread American ideas of natural rights and self-government "with more direct power and gave them new point; for to proclaim from the pulpit in the year of the Stamp Act and before the assembled magistrates of Massachusetts that when tyranny is abroad 'submission...is a crime' was an act of political defiance strengthened rather than weakened by the sanction of time and tradition the words had acquired." While well represented in institutional holdings, Eliot's speech is quite scarce in the marketplace, and this is the first copy we have ever owned. EVANS 9964. NAIP w031441. SABIN 22124. AMERICAN CONTROVERSY 65-8a. AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE 12a. BAILYN, IDEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, p.6.
      [Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana]
Last Found On: 2016-09-25           Check availability:      Biblio    

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