The first American edition of A Defence Of The Constitutions of Government Of The United States of America by John Adams, published in Philadelphia in 1787.
Twelvemo, xx,  – 390pp, . Full calf, title in gilt on spine over red morocco label, decorative gilt bands on spine. Some wear to covers and spine. Shallow splits to hinges, still stable. Bookplate of “Thomas Emmerson 1794” on front endpaper, with various other contemporary dates and inscriptions on endpapers. Occasional marginalia and toning to leaves, clipped corner of title page. (Sabin 233) (Howes A60) (Evans 20177) Housed in custom brown leather clamshell, title in gilt on spine.
A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America is a seminal work by John Adams, first published in London in 1787. It was followed the same year with reprints in New York and Philadelphia, and later a three-volume expanded edition in 1797. This work was produced by Adams while serving as the United States ambassador to Great Britain. It presents arguments in favor of the principles of checks and balances within government, advocating for a separation of powers to prevent tyranny. Adams meticulously examines various historical examples of republics and confederacies, drawing on a wide array of sources to support his assertions. His work significantly influenced the framing of the United States Constitution and remains a crucial reference for understanding the political theories underpinning American governance.
The recipient of this copy, Thomas Emmerson, was the first mayor of Knoxville and a longtime member of the Tennessee Superior Court and Court of Errors and Appeals (both predecessors of the Tennessee Supreme Court).