The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the... The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the... The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the...

The Acts of the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, enacted into Laws, since the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth day of July, A.D. 1776

PENNSYLVANIA, General Assembly

Published by John Dunlap [and Francis Bailey], Philadelphia [and Lancaster], 1781
From Donald A. Heald Rare Books (ABAA) (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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(12 1/8 x 7 3/4 inches). [71], [2], [51]-177, [1], [177]-417, [1], [395]-432, [2], [459]-488pp. Early twentieth century black morocco, spine with raised bands, lettered in gilt The extraordinarily rare session laws from the Revolution, including the flight to Lancaster. First editions (with the exception of the first two parts, which are second printings) of the so-called "Dunlap Laws," the excessively rare session laws of Pennsylvania passed during the Revolution and printed by John Dunlap, and in some instances Francis Bailey. Both the meetings of the Assembly, and the printing of the laws themselves, were conducted under gravely difficult conditions, as witness the displacement of the meeting (and printings) from Philadelphia to Lancaster, when the British occupied the city between September 1777 and June 1778. This collection includes all four of Dunlap and Bailey's Lancaster printings, which are the most difficult examples to find of the early Pennsylvania session laws. The onset of the Revolution ushered in an exciting and innovative period in American politics, as states made the transition from colonial political systems to independent legislatures. New constitutions were written (Pennsylvania's being among the most radical) and new classes of men came into political office, often displacing entrenched aristocrats and men of capital. The state legislatures functioned as miniature "laboratories of democracy," as new laws were passed for governance, the raising of public money, and the training and outfitting of a military force to contribute to the Revolutionary cause. Pennsylvania's Assembly was especially noteworthy for its sharp political divisions between ardent supporters of independence and those suspected of being Loyalists. The session laws collected here document the creation of the state's new political and civic structure, spelling out the roles and responsibilities of the governor, the Assembly, and the courts, the organization of the state militia and the requirements for serving therein, the creation of taxes and other means for raising public funds, and much, much more. This collection contains the journals of eighteen sessions of the Pennsylvania legislature representing the period from November 28, 1776 (the first meeting of the Pennsylvania General Assembly) through the fourth sitting of the Fifth General Assembly in 1781 (this last work and one other here known only in two copies). The only two comparable collections of Pennsylvania laws are those formed in the 19th century by Pennsylvania lawyer Charlemagne Tower, and one set of twenty-eight laws sold by William Reese Company (lacking one very rare imprint included here). In his catalogue of the Tower collection, noted bibliographer Charles Hildeburn called Tower's grouping of Pennsylvania laws "unequalled," and rightly so as it spanned more than 100 years and contained more than 150 separate items. Tower's collection of colonial American laws, which contained all of the Pennsylvania laws found in the present collection, was given to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1890. The collection here includes Tower's numbers 757 through 773, a complete run of Pennsylvania session laws for the years 1776 to 1781. The present collection of eighteen session laws from 1776 to 1785 outstrips the holdings of the next nearest institutions - the Library of Congress, which has only sixteen of the titles, and the American Antiquarian Society, which holds only twelve. The next nearest after that is the University of Pennsylvania, with only seven of the titles. Of the eighteen printings of laws in this collection, two are known in only one other copy each (the fifth and last items); most other works are known in less than three, four, or six copies. It is likely that the laws were produced in very small numbers, mainly for the use of the legislators, and the earlier ones would have suffered losses in the British invasion of Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania in 1777. Within these laws are found much of the day-to-day politics and business of running a state during the Revolution, with details of the war dominating. The very first laws establish a quorum, authorize the courts, issue Continental currency, establish a militia, and cover many military matters. By the third session the legislature had been forced to flee Philadelphia in front of the British invasion, and the next four session laws are printed in Lancaster by Francis Bailey and John Dunlap. The fourth sitting of the second General Assembly reconvened in Philadelphia on August 4, 1778. Virtually all of the laws in this period are concerned with the prosecution of the war, whether attainting traitors, organizing supplies, passing military regulations, or controlling prices. But there is much of importance besides; in January 1780 the Assembly passed "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery" as well as incorporating the American Philosophical Society. Beginning with the Fourth General Assembly in October 1779, Thomas Paine became the Clerk, and all the published laws are subscribed by him in type until September 1780. The contents here include the following: 1) Laws Enacted in the First Sitting of the First General Assembly of Pennsylvania, which began at Philadelphia, November 28, 1776, and was continued by adjournments to March 21, 1777. Philadelphia. 1779. Evans 16427; Hildeburn 3902; Tower Collection 763. 2) Laws Enacted in the Second Sitting of the First General Assembly.which commenced at Philadelphia, the Twelfth day of May One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven, and continued to the Nineteenth day of June in the same year. Philadelphia. 1779. Evans 16427; Hildeburn 3902; Tower Collection 763. 3) Laws Enacted in a General Assembly.held at Philadelphia the 12th day of May, 1777, and continued by adjournment to Lancaster, until the 14th day of Oct. 1777. Lancaster. 1777. Evans 15540; Hildeburn 3580; Tower Collection 757. 4) Laws Enacted in the Sec. Bookseller Inventory # 28962

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Acts of the General Assembly of the ...

Publisher: John Dunlap [and Francis Bailey], Philadelphia [and Lancaster]

Publication Date: 1781

Binding: Hardcover

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