An Appeal to the Government and Congress of the United States, against the Depredations Committed by American Privateers, on the Commerce of Nations at Peace with Us.
Post War of 1812 American political pamphlet on neutrality, foreign treaties, and laws “for preventing illegal outfits and piratical depredations” at sea. The work has been sometimes attributed to Anglo-American chemist, economist and political philosopher Thomas Cooper (1759–1839).
This copy bears intriguing inscriptions on its title page either attributing authorship to Cooper or, possibly, being inscribed by him.¹
The introduction to the main essay, which is over 60 pages in length, outlines five propositions or topics the author intends to investigate: the regulation of “...our intercourse with foreign nations”; “...the Law of Nations, of the British law, and the French law, upon the subject of privateering and piracy”; “...the steps ineffectually taken by the government and congress of the United States…to repress the breaches of national good faith…”; “[t]o shew that the existing laws are defective”; and “[t]o exhibit some of the numerous and disgraceful instances of illegal depredation, on the persons, the property, and the territory of unoffending foreigners…”
An appendix containing seven sections reprints documents, letters, and newspaper articles describing specific incidents or events to support the author’s arguments.
In 1794, Thomas Cooper emigrated to America with his friend and political ally, the chemist and liberal political theorist Joseph Priestley (1733–1804). In 1804, Cooper was appointed resident district judge in the state of Pennsylvania. “Although Cooper’s published legal and judicial opinions on problems involving the embargo and commerce received the approbation of Jefferson, he lost the support of radical Republican leaders in Pennsylvania. In 1811 Cooper was removed from office for ‘injudicious conduct,’ and his subsequent published comments objected to faults of party-ridden government in both France and Pennsylvania ... Cooper was described by Thomas Jefferson as ‘one of the ablest men in America’ and by John Adams as ‘a learned ingenious scientific and talented madcap.’” (ANB)
Description: An Appeal to the Government and Congress of the United States, against the Depredations Committed by American Privateers, on the Commerce of Nations at Peace with Us.
New York: Printed for the Booksellers., 1819. viii, , 10-100 pp. First edition. 8¼ x 5¼ inches. Neatly removed. Two, possibly contemporary, inscriptions on title page: “By Thomas Cooper Esq.” and, under the phrase “By an American Citizen,” the words “Judge Cooper.” Lacking wrappers; pencil ciphering on title page; very good.
Note. 1. There are two entries for this work in Shaw & Shoemaker, of which one attributes authorship to Cooper. Other bibliographical and biographical references, however, fail to make the attribution. See Shaw & Shoemaker 477008 and 47726 (dropping the word “An” from the beginning of the title). AAS holds a digital surrogate of this pamphlet and notes the attribution to Cooper but adds: “However, neither NUC, Sabin, Appleton’s nor the Dictionary of American biography makes this attribution.”