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“Olive Branch Petition” General Thomas Gage’s Official Report on the Battles of Lexington & Concord, Front Page !

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August 24-31, 1775-Dated, “Olive Branch Petition” and Lord Dartmouth's official report by General Thomas Gage, on the Battles of Lexington and Concord, THE NEW-ENGLAND CHRONICLE, OR THE ESSEX GAZETTE, Newspaper, Cambridge, (MA), Samuel and Ebenezer Hall, Choice Very Fine.

Newspaper report printing of “The Olive Branch Petition”, as No Broadside of this important Document appears to have been printed contemporarily. This is an original Complete 4-page Newspaper, pages measure 15.5” x 10” and includes the extremely important First Printing of the “Olive Branch Petition” featured on its front page, taking up the first two columns and a third of column 3. Expected light folds, a contemporary subscriber’s name, Captain Jonathan Judd, Jr. (1743-1818), is handwritten in ink at top left. This newspaper has only light use, is untrimmed with very minor splits, not affecting the printed text.

The American Revolution was largely caused by the American colonists’ anger over Taxation without fair representation, largely arising from the French and Indian War, and exacerbated by the British Intolerable Acts and Stamp Act. The Revolutionary War began April 19th, 1775 at Lexington and Concord, and ended with the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The front page first printing of the Olive Branch Petition in Massachusetts (also the first report in Boston), as well as an early appearance of Lord Dartmouth's official report on the Battles of Lexington and Concord are featured.

The Olive Branch Petition, despite the outbreak of hostilities at Lexington and Concord the previous month, the prevailing mood at the Second Continental Congress, convened in Philadelphia in May 1775, was one of “reconciliation” with Britain. A minority, led by John Adams, believed that armed conflict was inevitable, but resolved to remain silent on the issue for the time, awaiting a more opportune moment to rally Americans toward a more militant course. Adams' position allowed John Dickinson and other moderates to pursue a policy of reconciliation and the assembled delegates approved the idea of a petition to George III. Thomas Jefferson composed the first draft, but Dickinson found the language too offensive and revised a large portion of it. Congress approved the text on July 5th and sent two signed and engrossed copies to London on July 8, 1775 under the care of Arthur Lee and Richard Penn.

The Petition declared that the American colonies did not desire Independence, but simply desired a more fair and equitable position within the British Empire. The Petition made great pains to demonstrate that the King's colonists in America were "Loyal" and "Dutiful" to their Sovereign, and instead cast the blame on his ministers for the late troubles. It reads, in part:

"Your Majestys [sic] ministers persevering in their measures and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence [sic], and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affection of your still faithful colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us, only as parts of our distress. Knowing, to what violent resentments and incurable animosities, civil discords are apt to exasperate and inflame the contending parties, we think ourselves required by indispensable obligations to Almighty God, to your Majesty, to our fellow subjects, and to ourselves, immediately to use all the means in our power not incompatible with our safety, for stopping the further effusion of blood, and for averting the impending calamities that threaten the British Empire."

Further, the Petition proposed a renegotiation of the relationship between Great Britain and her colonies and begged the king:

"to procure us releif [sic] from our afflicting fears and jealousies occasioned by the system before mentioned, and to settle peace through every part of your dominions, with all humility submitting to your Majesty's wise consideration, whether it may not be expedient for facilitating those important purposes, that your Majesty be pleased to direct some mode by which the united applications of your faithful colonists to the throne, in pursuance of their common councils, may be improved into a happy and permanent reconciliation; and that in the meantime measures be taken for preventing the further destruction of the lives of your Majesty's subjects; and that such statutes as more immediately distress any of your Majesty[s colonies be repealed: For by such arrangements as your Majesty's wisdom can form for collecting the united sense of your American people, we are convinced, your Majesty would receive such satisfactory proofs of the disposition of the colonists towards their sovereign and the parent state, that the wished for opportunity would soon be restored to them, of evincing the sincerity of their professions by every testimony of devotion becoming the most dutiful subjects and the most affectionate colonists."

Upon their arrival in London, Penn and Lee presented the petition to Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for the Colonies on August 21st. However, the King declined to grant Lee and Penn an audience and refused to receive the petition. Reports of the Battle of Bunker Hill had just reached London, and that news, combined with an intercepted letter from John Adams in which he wrote of his discontent with the Olive Branch Petition and his opinion that war was inevitable, eroded whatever good will George III had left for the colonies. On August 23, 1775, the King issued his Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition which declared the colonies in a state of rebellion and urged all loyal subjects to use their utmost endeavours [sic] to withstand and suppress such rebellion."

The king's reaction and the royal proclamation declaring the colonies in rebellion strengthened John Adams' arguments favoring independence. It now was clear that London had no interest in reconciliation, and was determined to assert its authority by force. Although George's proclamation was issued before the arrival of the Olive Branch Petition, colonists perceived it as a direct answer to it. George's rejection of Congress' entreaties, the news of which arrived in America in early November, 1775, together with Thomas Paine's landmark book, Common Sense (appearing in January 1776) precipitated a seismic shift in popular opinion among the patriots toward outright independence. Ironically, this copy was printed just as the Petition was declared a "dead letter" in London.

The first separately-published edition was published by the New York Council of Safety in January 1776 under the title: “To the Inhabitants of the Colony of New-York & The following is a Copy of the Petition of the Honourable Continental Congress, sitting at Philadelphia, July 8, 1775, to his Majesty.” (Evans 15146). Evans sourcesonly copies at the Library of Congress, New York Historical Society and the New York Public Library (OCLC notes additional copies at Yale, Williams, and Clements. Only one example of that edition has sold at auction in the past twenty-three years. (Sotheby's, New York, December 13, 2000, lot 183, $19,150).

Lexington and Concord. Page two features the text of Lord Dartmouth's official report on the Battles of Lexington and Concord as they appeared in the London Gazette of June 10, 1775 and constitutes the first printing near Boston. The British account offers a valuable alternative perspective on the events of April 19, 1775. The report, based on dispatches and reports from General Thomas Gage, Lord Percy, and Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, describe Parker's men assembled on Lexington Green as simply; "a body of the country people drawn up under arms ..."

The description of the regulars' long return march to Concord also merits quoting: "On the return of the troops from Concord, they were very much annoyed, and had several men killed and wounded, by the rebels firing from behind walls, ditches, trees, and other ambushes... and kept up in that manner a scattering fire during the whole of their march of fifteen miles,... such was the cruelty and barbarity of the rebels, that they scalped and cut off the ears of some of the wounded men, who fell into their hands.”

A highly important rare Revolutionary War date Boston newspaper in nice overall condition.
Capt. Jonathan Judd, Jr. (c. 1743-1818) of Southampton, Massachusetts. The son of the town's first minister (Jonathan Judd, Sr.), he graduated Yale in 1765. After spending several years as a schoolteacher in nearby Hatfield, he settled in Southampton as a merchant.

Although he accepted a captain's commission in the militia, he resisted joining any of the minutemen companies organizing in the area as he was uncomfortable with the more radical Whigs and their penchant for mob violence. On a visit to Boston in 1769, he warily noted in his diary that “No Man may speak his Mind unless he thinks as the populace Say... Last Saturday Night an Informer was tar[re]d and feather[e]d and carried through the streets for three hours."

Despite his abhorrence of street intimidation, he supported the Patriot Revolutionary cause and was a member of Southampton's Committee of Correspondence. Still, when a mob surrounded the county courthouse in August 1774 to block a Royal takeover of the court, he wrote: "All opposition was in vain every Body submitted to our Sovereign Lord the Mob Now we are reduced to a State of Anarchy have neither Law nor any other rule except the Law of Nature."

Still, Judd remained supportive of the cause and during the war served the town by recruiting soldiers for the Continental Army and meting out punishment to deserters. In 1786, Judd took a similarly dim view of the mob violence instigated by Daniel Shays and actively marched against him "to support the government."

Following Shay's Rebellion, Judd remained a respected member of the community, serving in several town offices before his death in 1818.

The Olive Branch Petition was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 5, 1775, and signed on July 8 in a final attempt to avoid war between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies in America. The Congress had already authorized the invasion of Canada more than a week earlier, but the petition affirmed American loyalty to Great Britain and beseeched King George III to prevent further conflict.

It was followed by the July 6 Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, however, which made its success unlikely in London. In August 1775, the colonies were formally declared to be in rebellion by the Proclamation of Rebellion, and the petition was rejected by the British government; King George had refused to read it before declaring the Patriot Colonists as Traitors.
Lot Number: 112
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