Filadelfia: Imprenta de Matias Carey e Hijos, 1821. xii,-168pp. 12mo. Contemporary half calf and drab paper-covered boards, spine stamped in gilt. Some chipping to spine, boards scuffed, rubbed, and stained. Two leaves detached, uneven toning and foxing throughout. Good. Item #4734
An early and very rare Spanish-language edition of Thomas Paine's controversial The Rights of Man, for the Use and Benefit of the Human Race, printed by Matthew Carey in "Filadelfia." The work was translated into Spanish by Santiago Felipe Puglia. Paine moved to France in 1790, and would publish his seminal Rights of Man in 1791, in full-throated support of the French Revolution. Rights of Man was another successful attack by Paine on the institution of monarchy, in which Paine argued that political revolution was permissible in a nation whose government failed to safeguard the natural rights of its citizens. As a result, Paine was a hero to the revolutionaries in France, though he would fall in and out of favor with various regimes in Paris until he left France for good in 1802. The work had been banned in England in the early 1790s. Paine also ran into trouble in France for the present work. During this volatile time in French politics, Paine would be arrested later in 1793 as a political prisoner and held until the fall of Robespierre in late July 1794.
Interestingly, this edition was printed by Matthew Carey's firm in the same year as Vicente Rocafuerte's Ideas Necesarias a Todo Pueblo Americano Independiente, Que Quiera Ser Libre, a collection of important and foundational documents from the American Revolutionary period which included another work by Paine, Common Sense. Rocafuerte published his collection at a critical moment in the history of New Spain in order to combat the monarchical rule of Spain's colonialist governments in South America. This was indicative of a wider dissemination of Paine's revolutionary ideas in Europe and European colonies in the opening decades of the 19th century. It also stands testament to the increased demand for Spanish-language books in the United States and Latin America at the time -- a demand met with vigor by Matthew Carey and his sons in the City of Brotherly Love. All of these factors are discussed in some detail in Rodrigo Lazo's Letters from Filadelfia: Early Latino Literature and the Trans-American Elite. OCLC reports just a single copy of the present work, at Indiana University.