Binney, Barnabas (1751-1787) An Oration delivered on the Late Public Commencement at Rhode-Island College in Providence; September 1774. Being a Plea for the Right of private Judgement in Religious Matters; or, for the Liberty of Choosing Our Own Religion. Corroborated with the Well-Known Consequences of Priestly Power. To Which, Are Annexed, the Valedictions of the Class then First Graduated. By Barnabas Binney, A.B. Boston: Printed and Sold by John Kneeland, In Milk Street. MDCCLXXIV. First edition. 24.5 cm, 2º; 44 pages. A de-accessioned copy from the John Carter Brown Library with the “Duplicate Released RB JCB” stamp and the bookplate of John Carter Brown. A librarian’s penciled note above the bookplate states: “Lacks blank leaf at the end.” A comparison to the remaining three copies of in the John Carter Brown Library makes their librarian’s collation definitive. Still bound in the John Carter Brown beige cloth binder with a straight-grain brown leather spine, gilt lettered. Evans 13153; Sabin 5468.
Old library repairs were made to a copy with printer’s flaws. Pages 1-4 browned; p. 5 trimmed; paper tape repair to pp. 6-7, affecting several letters in the footnote on p. 7; pp. 11-12, a paper flaw resulted in the loss of a few words of text on p. 11 and fron the footnote on p. 12, page margin in reinforced with old paper tape; old paper tape repairs to pp. 17-18, to another paper flaw affecting a few letters on p. 17; pp 21-24 have the original untrimmed edges and have smaller margins; foxing pp. 39-44; margin reinforced on pp. 43-44 with old paper tape repair. There is a practiced ink signature on the title page of: “Brown I B Brown.”
A spirited presentation, this is a fledgling American patriot’s oration, one in which Binney advocated for freedom of religion just two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to his own graduating class of 1774 at Rhode-Island College, later to become Brown University, the first college in North America to accept students regardless of their religious affiliation. Barnabas Binney moved to Philadelphia after graduation and studied medicine in Philadelphia. Later, as a surgeon, he treated soldiers at Valley Forge in the hard winter of 1777-1778. He discovered “Robert Shirtlift” was a woman, Deborah Sampson, and helped “Shirtlift” receive an honorable discharge from the Continental Army. After the Revolutionary War, Binney maintained a medical practice in Philadelphia and became a member of the Philosophical Society. The John Carter Brown Library was founded in 1904, with the foundational book collection of John Carter Brown, of which this title was once a part.