ADAMS, JOHN (1735-1826). A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America. London: C. Dilly [vol. 1] and C. Dilly and John Stockdale [vols 2-3], 1787-88.
3 volumes, 8º (212 x 130mm). With half-title in vol. 2. (Faint marginal dampstaining in volume 1, this a little darker and reaching into the text in last few gatherings, short worm track in the bottom margin of the first five gatherings of vol. 2, occasional faint marginal dampstain in vol.3.) Nearly uniform contemporary sprinkled calf, flat spines gilt ruled in compartments, red morocco labels, numbered directly in gilt, yellow edges (some joints expertly repaired, corners lightly rubbed, traces of earlier label at foot of spines). Provenance: John Adams (presentation inscription, dated Philadelphia, 27 December 1795, to:) – François de La Rochefoucauld, duc de Liancourt, 1747-1827; his name crossed out by:) – John Ehrenberg.
RARE FIRST EDITION OF JOHN ADAM'S DEFENCE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, COMPLETE IN THREE VOLUMES; AN EXCEPTIONAL INSCRIBED COPY, OFFERED BY THE AUTHOR TO ALEXANDRE, DUC DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD-LIANCOURT.
Adams's essay played a key role in the development of American political philosophy, notably in defence of the separation of powers.
The inscription is dated Philadelphia, 27 December 1795, during Liancourt's travels in the United States to escape the turmoil of the Revolution. The two men met again in Paris, in about 1800, during the negotiations for the peace treaty between the USA and France.
As with other American books from de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt's library, this one has De Liancourt’s name crossed out and replaced by the name ‘John Ehrenberg’. What prompted this change is unknown; perhaps Liancourt, returning to France in 1799, was worried that his library with its clearly aristocratic pedigree might otherwise have been seized by customs.
Together with Lafayette, Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt was one of the strongest contemporary proponents of the American model in France, and a leading propagandist of the American cause: after his return to France, he attempted to put into practice the advanced ideas he had studied during his travels.
Sabin 233-4 (recording a longer title for vols. 2-3); Howes A-60; Soultrait 18th Century 2.