Monday, July 3rd, 2017...9:30 am

The Road to Revolution

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the exhibition Open House 75: Houghton Staff Select on display in the Edison and Newman Room from May 8 – August 19, 2017.

Paul Revere's signature on subscription sheets protesting the Townsend Acts

I have handled thousands of magnificent objects over my thirty-plus years as a rare book cataloger, but nothing comes close to finding this national treasure in Houghton’s stacks a few years ago. A response to the Townsend Act’s tariffs, these subscription sheets record the earliest call for colonial Americans to join together publicly to boycott British goods. Historians have long known about the boycott and the printed rally to arms. However, until now, scholars had no idea how many colonists had pledged to participate nor who they were. What was uncovered in the stacks were eight copies of the printed announcement – followed by the signatures of over six hundred who signed onto the boycott, including Paul Revere, James Otis, and John Wheatley. For me, one of the most thrilling aspects is that sixty-five women signed. These sheets will undoubtedly prove essential documents for future study of consumerism and the origins of the Revolution.

Whereas this Province Labours under a Heavy Debt (Boston, 1767)

Whereas this Province Labours under a Heavy Debt (Boston, 1767), AB7.B6578.767w

Shortly after the discovery, Houghton published a detailed blog post about the sheets, which begins to plumb the depths of their importance.

Women's signatures

Karen Nipps, Head of the Rare Book Team, Houghton Library, contributed this post.

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