Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
FIRST EDITION, type B, the definitive authorized version. Observing in his opening words that “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains,” Rousseau offered this work as a yardstick with which to judge existing governments. He argued that the central problem is to “find a form of association which can defend and protect with all the power of the community the person and possessions of each associate, and by which each person unites himself with all, but only obeys himself and thereby remains as free as before.”
“the first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying” - land as private property, a new era in capitalismBENESE, RICHARD
This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande, as Well of Woodlande, as of Lande in the Felde and Comptynge the True Nombre of Acres of the Same. [edited by Thomas Paynell.]. Southwark: James Nicolson, [1537 or 1538?]
FIRST EDITION of “the first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying” (Buisseret, Monarchs, Ministers, and Maps). The book focused on practical methods calculating everything from the amount of stone needed to pave a chamber floor to the size of a pasture or field” marking “the beginning of a new interest in measuring not just the assets of the land, but the land itself” (D. K. Smith, Cartographic Imagination in Early Modern England).
“Every man has a certain sphere of discretion which he has a right to expect shall not be infringed by his neighbours. This right flows from the very nature of man.”GODWIN, WILLIAM
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its influence on General Virtue and Happiness. London: Robinson, 1793
FIRST EDITION. In Political Justice, his most famous work, Godwin responds to Burke’s attacks on the French Revolution and Thomas Paine. He applies the principles of the Revolution to inquire into the philosophical basis of government. Believing that political and social institutions are tyrannical and corrupt, Godwin calls for reason to guide human affairs and advocates individual liberty.
Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. Lyon, 1660s
This fascinating 17th-century scientific manuscript documents the state of scientific knowledge and education in France in the years following Galileo’s trial and the Church’s prohibition of Copernican theory.
(MAGNA CARTA.) Care, Henry, ed
English Liberties, Or The Free-Born Subject’s Inheritance: Containing Magna Charta . . . The Habeas Corpus Act, And Several Other Statutes. Boston: Printed by J. Franklin, for N. Buttolph, B. Eliot, and D. Henchman, 1721
FIRST AMERICAN EDITION. This volume, one of the very first law books printed in colonial America, contains the first American printing of Magna Carta and other fundamental documents of individual liberty in Anglo-American law. Magna Carta has become “a sacred text, the nearest approach to an irrepealable ‘fundamental statute’ that England has ever had” (Pollock & Maitland)
(MARSHALL, JOHN.) Gilbert, Sir Geoffrey
The History and Practice of the High Court of Chancery. London: Printed by Henry Lintot for J. Worral and W. Owen, 1758
FIRST EDITION of this law book from the library of John Marshall, signed twice (on the front free endpaper and on the front cover). The most important chief justice in the history of the United States Supreme Court, John Marshall was one of the great figures in the establishment of our judicial, legal, and political system.
Women’s Manuscript Prayer Book in Hebrew. Scribe: Yechiel Menachem Ben Abraham Urbino. Italy, 1775
This delicate and rare manuscript, prepared exclusively for women includes prayers for healthy and righteous children, a comfortable livelihood, the Mikveh, pregnancy, candle lightening, and the separation of Challah.
(WASHINGTON, BUSHROD.) [Ballow, Henry.]
A Treatise of Equity … with the addition of marginal references and notes by John Fonblanque. Volume the Second. Dublin: Byrne, Moore, Jones, and Watts, 1795
Bushrod Washington’s copy, with his signature on the title-page. George Washington’s favorite nephew, Bushrod (1762-1829) was executor of his uncle’s estate and inherited Mount Vernon. He inherited Washington’s library and papers, and this volume was surely shelved side-by-side with those books at Mount Vernon. Bushrod Washington gave John Marshall access to Washington’s papers when the chief justice was writing his Life of Washington.