Hard Cover. Boston: Edmund Freeman; London: C. Dilly, 1787. First Edition. Near Fine.
Boston: Re-printed and fold by Edmund Freeman, opposite of the North Door of the State-House, 1788; and London: Printed for C. Dilly, 1787-1788. Three volumes, the first 12mo volume is the third edition of the Defence and the first to be published in Boston, issued as a stand-alone work in 1788; the other two 8vo volumes are Vols. II & III of the first edition, published in London in 1787-1788, issued after the first volume of the first edition, which was published earlier in 1787. Volume I in contemporary brown sheepskin, five raised bands, black spine label lettered in gilt. Near fine, rebacked and repaired to corners with the original boards and portions of backstrip including original spine label preserved, variously worn with some offsetting to endpapers and a few spots scattered throughout text block, else very clean and with a great association. Vols II & III in contemporary brown tree calf, ruled and lettered in gilt to spine. Very good, rebacked with wear to hinges and extremities, rear boards of both volumes cracked and fragile, particularly in Vol. II, both still holding, text blocks very clean. First published in London while John Adams served as a diplomat, A Defence of the Constitutions of the Government of the United States of America seeks to explain the philosophy behind the development of the United States Constitution, which was later ratified in 1789. Referencing various governments throughout history, as well as philosophers like Machiavelli, Locke, and Milton, Adams puts forth an argument for separation of powers and the importance of a Bill of Rights in the formation of a government. The book is written as a series of letters, allowing Adams to address each argument clearly and succinctly. The second edition of this work was published in New York in the same year, and in Boston in 1788. John Adams (1735-1826) was one of the seven men known as the Founding Fathers of the United States. Instrumental in drafting and enacting the Declaration of Independence in 1776, John Adams went on to serve as an American diplomat, vice-president to President George Washington, and later as the second president of the United States. Although he lived in London at the time of the Constitution's drafting and was not an official member of the framing committee, Adams corresponded closely with the group about his research for Defence and remained influential throughout the Constitution's development. This particular copy of the first Boston edition originally resided in the personal library of the prominent politician and Revolutionary War colonel in the Massachusetts militia, the Honorable Thomas Dawes, Esquire (1731-1809), and was later donated to the Mechanic Apprentices Library by Dawes' son, also the Honorable Thomas Dawes, Esquire (1757-1825), in 1820. The older Dawes can be found among the List of Subscribers printed at the front of the book; common practice for publishers at the time was to solicit subscribers who paid in advance for their copy of a book that was to be published to ensure sales. Thomas Dawes, who worked as a mechanic before the start of the Revolution, was a Patriot and an active member of the Massachusetts government, holding several titles throughout his lifetime, including Chairman of the Governor's Council and Representative in the House and Senate. Notably, Dawes served alongside John Adams as part of the small delegation that developed and enacted the Massachusetts state constitution in 1779. The title page of this volume of Defence bears a presentation inscription from Thomas Dawes Junior to the Mechanic Apprentices Library in Boston in 1820. The younger Dawes, also a prominent figure in Massachusetts politics, served as a judge in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts for several years and was connected by marriage to President Adams; Dawes' brother-in-law and sister-in-law both married, respectively, the niece and nephew of John Adams and his wife, Abigail. Dawes and Adams corresponded on occasion and considered each other close friends. Both Dawes men appear frequently in records of Adams' journal and personal correspondence.