Title page from Cato’s Letters, vol. 2 (1737 ed.)

Part of: Cato’s Letters, or Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects Cato’s Letters, vol. 2 (1737 ed.)

A facsimile of the 1737 edition. Volume 2 (June 1721 to March 1722) of a four volume set. Almost a generation before Washington, Henry, and Jefferson were even born, two Englishmen, concealing their identities with the honored ancient name of Cato, wrote newspaper articles condemning tyranny and advancing principles of liberty that immensely influenced American colonists.

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The Englishmen were John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon. Their prototype was Cato the Younger (95-46 B.C.), the implacable foe of Julius Caesar and a champion of liberty and republican principles. Their 144 essays were published from 1720 to 1723, originally in the London Journal, later in the British Journal. Subsequently collected as Cato’s Letters, these “Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious” became, as Clinton Rossiter has remarked, “the most popular, quotable, esteemed source of political ideas in the colonial period.”[Source: Gallica/BNF gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k94295v]