Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trampling on the Mother Country

Image of the Boston Tea Party: Americans throwing the Cargoes of the Tea Ships into the River, at Boston"Before we proceed to describe what America is at present, or by what means she became independent of the Mother Country, it cannot be disagreeable to our readers, to be informed of the persons, customs, and manners, of the original inhabitants of North America."

A lovely start to a book that has "endeavoured to divest [it]self of every spark of national prejudice." It is a History of North America written for the youth of England and published by Elizabeth Newbery in 1789. The revolution was still fresh, the constitution big news on both sides of the Atlantic, and, presumably, school children were anxious to learn more. Elizabeth Newbery had taken over the publishing firm she operated with her husband John Newbery that, in essence, invented the modern children's book (the Newbery Award is named after him).

Image of title page and frontispiece. The Frontispiece shows an allegorical image of America trampling a dog like creature with emblems of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
We took a look at the book. "Mother Country" in the first sentence is a hint that it is not completely devoid of national prejudice, but the statement is countered by an image of "America trampling on Oppression." The book was reprinted in the States. Several printers, including one in Bennington, Vermont, picked it up and, in an era without international copyright, happily stole it from the motherland.

Our copy was clearly owned by a kid. It has drawings of ships sketched onto the flyleaves. Come on in and take a look at a child's eye view of the revolution by asking for Rare E188.C75 1789.

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