Philadelphia: Typis D. Humphreys: Impensis autem J. Crukshank, W. Young, T. Dobson, M. Carey, H. & P. Rice, C. Cist, & P. Hall, 1793.
First American edition. , 261,  pp. 12mo. Contemporary calf. Minor wear at extremities Evans 25299; Clarkin 120; ESTC W6827. Provenance: Hugh H. Henry, Germantown Academy. Item #321784
De Officiis (On Duties or On Obligations) is a 44 BC epistolary treatise by Marcus Tullius Cicero, written the year before his assassination as he was trying to thwart the overthrow of the Roman Republic. Divided into three books, Cicero expounds his conception of the best way to live, behave, and observe moral obligations. Notable for its depiction of Roman political life under the Republic, Voltaire would later write of De Officiis that "no one will ever write anything more wise." Gibbon would similarly argue that any young scholar begin their studies with Cicero in Latin.
The Founding Fathers had a particularly affinity for the philosopher and often compared the parable of Cicero's triumph with their own Revolutionary narrative. John Adams wrote that, “as all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united in the same character, his authority should have great weight” and Jefferson dubbed Cicero “the father of eloquence and philosophy”. Indeed, according to Thomas Ricks's First Principles, the Founding Fathers referred to Cicero in their public and private writings five times as often as Aristotle.
This first American edition of Cicero's most enduring work is quite rare, with no examples in the auction records for the last half century and about a dozen American institutional holdings. This example with early provenance to a student at Germantown Academy (founded 1759).
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