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MEREDITH, William.

Historical Remarks on the Taxation of Free states, in a Series of Letters to a Friend.

London: [no publisher,] printed the sixteenth of November, 1778 Stock Code: 143959
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Scarce tract opposing the taxation of the American colonies

First edition, revised second printing, of this rejection, during the American Revolutionary War, of the British taxation of the American colonies, based on the precedent of antiquity.

Two printings are distinguished, this second printing from substantially the same setting of type as the first, but with some textual revisions and with an additional terminal leaf "Translations of the Greek Notes".

The book offers "'An answer to a tract by W. Baron entitled: 'An History of the Colonization of the Free States of Antiquity'. The point labored at in the latter was to show that Great Britain was fully justified by the precedents. Sir William refutes the work, and shows the author to be totally mistaken in all his premises. Candour must allow that the 'Historical Remarks' is not only a very learned but very able performance. It was never published. Only about thirty copies were printed, which the author gave away' (Almon's Anecdotes I. 81)" (Sabin). A survey of institutional copies shows more than 30 copies across the two printings recorded and thus that number is too low, but even so, it is a very scarce item, the last listed appearance at auction being in 1979.

Meredith (1724-1790), a member of the House of Commons, had a long history of opposing the taxation of America, speaking against the 1765 Stamp Act and the tea duties. He moved unsuccessfully for the repeal of the Declaratory Act in 1778, and for peace with the colonies in 1779. His support for the American cause was controversial, and when he resigned from the Ministry over the issue in early December 1777, he was "treated by both sides with equal contempt" (Last Journals of Horace Walpole, 1910, vol. II, p. 81).

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Quarto (234 x 176 mm). Contemporary calf, red morocco label.


Contemporary notation of authorship to title page, early shelf mark to front pastedown. A little rubbed, splitting to front joint with front hinge discreetly reinforced, without front free endpaper, tiny hole to title page. A very good copy.


Adams 78-71b; ESTC T14293; Sabin, 47944.


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