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Wildy’s Book News

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Vol 23 No 3 March/April 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

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'Tis Treason, My Good Man! Four Revolutionary Presidents and a Piccadilly Bookshop

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ISBN13: 9780712306997
ISBN: 0712306994
Published: May 2005
Publisher: The British Library
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: Out of print

Wildy's Book of the Month - June 2005
This unusual book was inspired by a chance find on Wildys shelves. Judge Stockdale found a report of the 1789 trial of the bookseller John Stockdale (no relation) for publishing a criticism of the House of Commons.

He was successfully defended by the great Erskine, but the case led to Fox's Libel Act of 1792. This bookseller turned out to be the father of the notorious John Joseph Stockdale, whose litigation against Hansard led directly to the Parliamentary Papers Act, 1840.

On further investigation the author found that John Stockdale's bookshop had close links with several American Presidents, all of whom were interested in the Freedom of the Press and in publishing. The initial link had been established by a friend of one of the pre-Revolution American students at the Middle Temple, who, as one of General Washingtons closest aides, had negotiated the British surrender at Yorktown.

Eric Stockdale's historical work illuminates one of the least known but most interesting corners of history: American propaganda before and during the War of Independence, much of it written by English authors. With unique insight the author takes the reader back to the turbulent years in London just before, during and after the American Revolution.

We are introduced to a cast of historic characters, both heroes and villains: Prime Ministers, Attorneys-General, Members of Parliament and 'bloody revolutionaries of the worst sort!' Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, among other radicals, all step forth and take their place in these times 'that try men's souls'. We come to understand the quiet courage and audacity of men like John Almon, John Stockdale and other pro-American booksellers, and the deadly edge of treason they had to tread. We learn about the Byzantine tangle of British politics and the men who pushed England's famed Freedom of the Press to Lord North's and the King's great distress.

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General Interest
List of Illustrations
Foreward - John Lewis von Hoelle
Plan of Piccadilly
1.John Almon and John Wilkes
2.Benjamin Franklin and Almon
3.Henry laurens and Independence
4.President Laurens and Colonial Laurens
5.The Ending of the War
6.John Stocdale opens his Bookshop
7.John Adams stays with John Stockdale
8.Thomas Jefferson and John Stockdale
9.John Adam's Defence
10.Thomas Day and Stockdale's Children's Books
11.Thomas Erskine defends John Stockdale
12.John Almon's Final Years
13.Stockdale's Books on Australia
14.The First American Historian
15.Tom Paine and John Quincy Adams
16.The Father of American Geography
17.Stockdale's Topographical Works
18.Stockdale Lampooned by Gillray
19. 'Loyal' Stockdale and Hester Piozzi
20.Stockdale's Final Years
John Joseph Stockdale - The Unnecessary Crisis, from Public Law of 1990