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Francis Hopkinson's "The Battle of the Kegs" Poem 1866 Special Printing Extra-Illustrated with Six Early Engravings
(FRANCIS HOPKINSON). Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Author of the Poem: "The Battle of the Kegs" measuring 9.5" x 6.5", 4to, Full Later Morocco Hardcovers, Gold gilt-lettered spine, minor wear. (Philadelphia), Oakwood Press, 1866, Choice Extremely Fine.

1866-Dated, Special Printed Book, entitled: "The Battle of the Kegs," by Francis Hopkinson, Oakwood Press (Philadelphia), 1866, Choice Extremely Fine. This extremely rare, special printed edition is also Extra-Illustrated with Six Early Historic Engravings. It measures 9.5" x 6.5" having original 19th century Half Calf & Marbled Morocco Boards and a Gold gilt-lettered spine. This example being No. (00) of 82 copies (not numbered), printed on heavy laid paper. Some very minor wear to the bottom cover edge, while the interior is crisp, near mint. The only other example we have located was in lower quality, sold by PBA galleries in 1999. A light pencil notation on the front paper indicates a previous past price or cost of $1,250.

This ballad recounts Colonial times in Revolutionary War Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1778 when the Americans sent kegs of gunpowder floating down the Delaware River, hoping to damage the British ships in the harbor. A later, 1964 childrens book was published of the same name. A very rare book, this current copy also being Extra-Illustrated with Six Early Historic Engravings. The very first in 35 years we have offered.

A limited-edition (one of 82) printing on blue paper of a humorous poem on a Revolutionary War incident.

Extra-illustrated with the following: 6 engravings of related figures and scenes. Sabin 32977.
Francis Hopkinson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, signs this bill of exchange as Treasurer of Loans. Francis Hopkinson (September 21, 1737 " May 9, 1791), an American author, was one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from New Jersey.

He later served as a federal judge in Pennsylvania. His supporters believe he played a key role in the design of the first American flag. Francis Hopkinson was born at Philadelphia in 1737, the son of Thomas Hopkinson and Mary Johnson. He became a member of the first class at the College of Philadelphia (now University of Pennsylvania) in 1751 and graduated in 1757, receiving his masters degree in 1760, and a doctor in law (honorary) in 1790.

He was secretary to a Provincial Council of Pennsylvania Indian commission in 1761 that made a treaty with the Delaware and several Iroquois tribes. In 1763, he was appointed customs collector for Salem, New Jersey. Hopkinson spent from May 1766 to August 1767 in England in hopes of becoming commissioner of customs for North America. Although unsuccessful, he spent time with the future Prime Minister Lord North and his half-brother, the Bishop of Worcester Brownlow North, and painter Benjamin West. After his return, Francis Hopkinson operated a dry goods business in Philadelphia and married Ann Borden on September 1, 1768. They would have five children. Hopkinson obtained a public appointment as a customs collector for New Castle, Delaware on May 1, 1772.

He moved to Bordentown, New Jersey in 1774, became an assemblyman for the state's Royal Provincial Council, and was admitted to the New Jersey bar on May 8, 1775. He resigned his crown-appointed positions in 1776 and, on June 22, went on to represent New Jersey in the Second Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence.

He departed the Congress on November 30, 1776 to serve on the Navy Board at Philadelphia. As part of the fledgling nation's government, he was Treasurer of the Continental Loan Office in 1778; appointed Judge of the Admiralty Court of Pennsylvania in 1779 and reappointed in 1780 and 1787; and helped ratify the Constitution during the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

On September 24, 1789, he was nominated by President George Washington to the newly created position of Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Pennsylvania. He was confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission, on September 26, 1789.

As a Federal Judge, Hopkinson died in Philadelphia at the age of 53 from a sudden epileptic seizure. He was buried in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. He was the father of Joseph Hopkinson, member of the United States House of Representatives and Federal judge.

The Battle of the Kegs

By Francis Hopkinson (1737"1791)

GALLANTS 1 attend, and hear a friend,

Trill forth harmonious ditty,

Strange things I 'll tell which late befell

In Philadelphia city.

'T was early day, as poets say, 5

Just when the sun was rising,

A soldier stood on a log of wood,

And saw a thing surprising.

As in amaze he stood to gaze,

The truth can't be denied, sir, 10

He spied a score of kegs or more

Come floating down the tide, sir.

A sailor too, in jerkin blue,

This strange appearance viewing,

First damn'd his eyes, in great surprise, 15

Then said, "Some mischief's brewing.

"These kegs, I 'm told, the rebels bold,

Pack'd up like pickled herring;

And they 're come down t' attack the town,

In this new way of ferrying." 20

The soldier flew, the sailor too,

And scared almost to death, sir,

Wore out their shoes, to spread the news,

And ran till out of breath, sir.

Now up and down, throughout the town 25

Most frantic scenes were acted;

And some ran here, and others there,

Like men almost distracted.

Some fire cried, which some denied,

But said the earth had quaked; 30

And girls and boys, with hideous noise,

Ran through the streets half naked.

Sir William he, snug as a flea,

Lay all this time a snoring,

Nor dream'd of harm, as he lay warm, 35

In bed with Mrs L""g.

Now in a fright he starts upright,

Awaked by such a clatter;

He rubs both eyes, and boldly cries,

"For God's sake, what 's the matter?' 40

At his bedside he then espied

Sir Erskine at command, sir,

Upon one foot he had one boot,

And the other in his hand, sir.

"Arise, arise," Sir Erskine cries, 45

"The rebels"more 's the pity,

Without a boat are all afloat,

And ranged before the city.

"The motly crew, in vessels new,

With Satan for their guide, sir. 50

Pack'd up in bags, or wooden kegs,

Come driving down the tide, sir.

"Therefore prepare for bloody war,"

These kegs must all be routed,

Or surely we despised shall be, 55

And British courage doubted."

The royal band now ready stand,

All ranged in dread array, sir,

With stomach stout to see it out,

And make a bloody day, sir. 60

The cannons roar from shore to shore,

The small arms make a rattle;

Since wars began I 'm sure no man

E'er saw so strange a battle.

The rebel dales, the rebel vales, 65

With rebel trees surrounded;

The distant wood, the hills and floods,

With rebel echoes sounded.

The fish below swam to and fro,

Attack'd from every quarter; 70

Why sure, thought they, the devil 's to pay,

'Mongst folks above the water.

The kegs, 't is said, though strongly made,

Of rebel staves and hoops, sir,

Could not oppose their powerful foes, 75

The conquering British troops, sir.

From morn to night these men of might

Display'd amazing courage;

And when the sun was fairly down,

Retired to sup their porridge. 80

An hundred men with each a pen,

Or more, upon my word, sir.

It is most true, would be too few,

Their valor, to record, sir.

Such feats did they perform that day, 85

Against these wicked kegs, sir,

That years to come, if they get home,

They 'll make their boasts and brags, sir.

This ballad was occasioned by a real incident. Certain machines, in the form of kegs, charged with gunpowder, were sent down the river to annoy the British shipping then at Philadelphia. The danger of these machines being discovered, the British manned the wharves and shipping, and discharged their small arms and cannons at everything they saw floating in the river, during the ebb tide.
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