David RAMSAY (of South-Carolina).
The History of the Revolution of South-Carolina, from a British Province to an Independent State. Trenton, NJ: printed by Isaac Collins, 1785. 2 volumes, octavo (7 ½ x 5in; 190 x 127mm). Half-titles. (Lacking the five maps, and the final blank in vol.I, some toning and occasional marginal staining, old damp damage). 19th-century purple polished leather, the flat spines gilt, patterned endpapers (some scuffing, spines and the upper cover of vol.II lightly sunned). Provenance: Edward B. Lining, jr. (of Charleston, inscription date 1834, in vol.I); James Williams (vol.II with two signatures from different individuals called ‘James Williams’). Theodore Drayton Grimké-Drayton (1853-1916, armorial bookplate, stamped ‘Clifford Manor, Glos.’, nephew of Rev. John Grimké, the Magnolia Gardens gardener, with the stamp in vol II, slightly indistinct, but reading: "This Book is part of the old / Gimke and Drayton Library / at South Bay House, So. Ca., which was sent over / to T. Drayton Grimke, of Colborne / Hall, Lancashire, England in the Autumn of 1889” – so, from his father’s [Theodore Drayton Grimké] and /or [Thomas Smith Grimké] his grandfather's house in Charleston (South Bay = South Battery?).
First edition, lacking the maps, but with an evocative and important Charleston and South Carolinian provenance – were these books sent to Theodore Grimké-Drayton as a reminder of his ‘roots’ at a time when Charleston was in dire need of powerful (and wealthy) friends? In addition: this work which was the first book to be granted US copyright protection.
By the early 1880s the city was recovering from the devastation of the Civil War: ‘a city on the mend … a city undergoing social and cultural renewal’ (O.W. Nuttli and others). This all changed in 1886. “The 1886 Charleston earthquake occurred about 9:50 p.m. local time August 31 with an estimated moment magnitude of 6.9–7.3 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). The intraplate earthquake caused 60 deaths and $5–6 million ($153.37 million in 2018) in damage to 2,000 buildings in the Southeastern United States. It is one of the most powerful and damaging earthquakes to hit the East Coast of the United States. Very little to no historical earthquake activity had occurred, which is unusual for any seismic area’.” (Wikipedia). Re-building began almost immediately, but the damage was extensive and it is reasonable to assume that by 1889 Grimké-Drayton’s relatives were looking for help with the re-construction: these books may have been part of that effort.
Ramsay’s work, apart from its intrinsic merits, is also notable as the first book to be granted US copyright protection. Howes notes that the "Copyright [was] granted by Congress April 20, 1789; [the] first ever obtained" (Howes). A significant portion of the work was sourced from ‘The Annual Register’ by the author, but it is also true that "the part supplied by Ramsay himself is reliable eyewitness material" (Streeter). Howes R-36. Sabin 67690. Evans 19211