Rights of Man. Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's Attach on the French Revolution

Rights of Man. Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's Attach on the French Revolution. Thomas Paine.
First American Edition of Part One with the Jefferson Extract in the Preface
Rights of Man. Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's Attach on the French Revolution

Philadelphia: Re-Printed by Samuel Harrison Smith, 1791. First American edition. Second Edition overall.
[Together with]. Paine, Thomas. Rights of Man. Part the Second Philadelphia: Printed by and For Messrs. Printed by and for Messr. H. and P. Rice, no. 50, Market-Street, and S.H. Smith, 1792. Second Philadelphia edition. Two volumes bound together in full maroon morocco. Boards and spine elaborately tooled in gilt. Spine with black morocco spine label, lettered in gilt. All edges speckled red. Text block of part one with some minor toning and part two with some mild spotting as expected of American paper from this time. Minor corner stain to outer lower corner on pages 97-106. Overall a very good copy of both parts.

First American Edition of part one of Thomas Paine's famous work, Rights of Man, printed the same year as the first London edition. Second American edition, printed the same year as the first American of part two. Misunderstandings of which edition Part one is are common as the title-page states Second edition, although it is the first printing in America. "The full title of the first American printing, designated on the title- page as the 'Second Edition, reads Rights of Man. Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's Attack on the French Revolution, by Thomas Paine, Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Congress in the American War and author of the work intitled Common Sense. Philadelphia: Re-printed by Samuel Harrison Smith. M.DCC.XCI . While TJ ordered three or four copies of this edition, none owned by him is known to exist. See Sowerby, No. 2826" (National Archives). It is our assumption that because Smith was a relatively new printer, he printed "Second Edition" on the title-page as this was its second time being printed, even thought it was the first time it was printed in America. The second American edition states "Second Philadelphia edition, from fourth London edition, corrected and enlarged" and contains one less page. Octavo (8 1/8 x 4 7/8 inches; 206 x 123 mm). [1]-105, [1, blank]; viii,[1],10-96 pp. Part one is dedicated to George Washington as in Jordan’s London editions and part two is dedicated to the Marquis de Lafayette. The last true first London edition to sell at auction (one of just about 100 copies that were sold before the run was recalled hours after release) which was a 1st edition of part one and a 2nd edition of part two, sold for $250,000. Here we have the first American first edition of part one. We could find no other copy besides this current copy at auction since 1911.

“The Rights of Man was one of the most widely read books of its time. In it, Paine argues that human rights depend on nature, and that charters, with an implication that they are granted and can therefore be withdrawn, can have no basis in law. Hereditary government, dependent on Edmund Burke’s idea of the ‘hereditary wisdom’ of the ruling classes, is clearly divisive rather than benevolent and is, therefore wrong; Paine’s assertion is that a nation should be able to choose its own government, and that the role of government is to protect the family and their inherent rights” (British Library). The arrival of Paine’s work in the new American republic – and its being read and discussed among Founding Fathers – led to Paine’s political thought taking a crucial role in shaping the U.S. founding documents and institutions.

ESTC W36410, W36434. Evans 23664, 24654. Printing and the Mind of Man 241.
(Item #4272)

Price: $17,500