Richard Price and the Ethical Foundations of the American Revolution

Richard Price and the Ethical Foundations of the American Revolution

Book Pages: 350 Illustrations: Published: December 1978

American Studies, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Religious Studies

Richard Price was a loyal, although dissenting, subject of Great Britain who thought the British treatment of their colonies as wrong, not only prudentially, financially, economically, militarily, and politically, but, above all, morally wrong. He expressed these views in his first pamphlet early in 1776. It concluded with a plea for the cessation of hostilities by Great Britain and reconciliation. Its analyses, arguments, and conclusions, however, along with its admiration for the colonists, their moral position and qualities, could hardly fail to contribute to their reluctant recognition that there was no real alternative to independence. Price found some of his views not only misunderstood but vilified by negative critics in the ensuing controversy. So he wrote a second pamphlet which was published in early 1777. He expanded his analysis of liberty, extended its application to the war with America, and greatly expanded his discussion of the economic impact upon Great Britain. After the war, in 1784, he published a third pamphlet on the importance of the American Revolution and the means of making it a benefit to the world, appending an extensive letter from the Frenchman, Turgot. Implicitly the letter regards Price as a perceptive theorist of the revolution; explicitly it identifies the problems facing the prospective new nation and expresses a wish that it will fulfill its role s the hope of the world. Selections in the appendices present a part of the pamphlet controversy and the selection of correspondence shows how seriously Price was regarded by Revolutionary leaders.



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Preface 9

Introduction 13

A Note on the Editions 41

The General Introduction and Supplement to the Two Tracts on Civil Liberty, the War with America, and the Finances of the Kingdon 45

Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America [The First Tract on Civil Liberty] 63

Additional Observations on the Nature and Value of Civil Liberty and the War with America [The Second Tract on Civil Liberty] 125

Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution and the Means of Making it a Benefit to the World 177

Letter from M. Turgot 215


1. On Conciliation with the Colonies / Edmund Burke 229

2. Three Letters to Dr. Price / John Lind 235

3. Some Observations on Liberty Occasioned by a Late Tract / John Wesley 245

4. Remarks on a Pamphlet Lately Published by Dr. Price / Adam Ferguson 253

5. A Sermon Preached Before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Bible in Foreign Parts / William Markham, Lord Archbishop of York 261

6. Letters to John Farr and John Harris, Esqrs (Sheriffs of the City of Bristol) / Edmund Burke 266

7. A Sermon Delivered to a Congregation of Protestant Dissenters at Hackney / Richard Price 275

8. Selected Correspondence 286

Index 343
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Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-0400-5