AT LEAST THREE “FIRSTS” First English Septuagint
First American-Translated English N.T. First Bible Printed by an American
Bible. English. 1808. Thomson. The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant, commonly called the Old and New Testament: Translated from the Greek. By Charles Thomson. Philadelphia: Pr. by Jane Aitken, 1808. 8vo (22 cm; 8.5"). 4 vols. I:  ff. II:  ff. III:  ff. IV:  ff.
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The first-ever translation into English of the Septuagint, the first English translation of the New Testament by an American, and the first Bible printed by an American woman — Jane Aitken. It was also the first translation of the Greek New Testament into English by a native of Ireland, and of course it is the work of a key figure of the American Revolution.
Charles Thomson was born in County Derry, Ireland, 29 November 1729 and arrived with his brothers in the American colonies as an orphan in 1740, his mother having died before embarkation and his father having died at sea during the crossing. He studied ancient languages and theology; through the influence of Benjamin Franklin received the mastership of the Latin school in Philadelphia (now the William Penn Charter School); kept records of proceedings at the Treaty of Easton (1757) on behalf of the Indian tribes, and was adopted into the Delaware Indian nation; served as the secretary of every congress from 1774 until 1789; and designed the Great Seal of the United States. An abolitionist and ardent supporter of the Revolutionary cause, he was characterized by a fellow Revolutionary (John Adams) as “the Sam Adams of Philadelphia, the life of the cause of liberty,” and by a conservative (Joseph Galloway) as “one of the most violent of the Sons of Liberty in America.” It was he who informed George Washington of his election to the presidency.
On 4 July 1776 only two signatures were affixed to the unanimously adopted Declaration of Independence those of John Hancock, president of the Congress, and Charles Thomson, secretary, in order to authenticate the document that had been voted on and approved. Yet by a curious twist of fate (read rather, surely, of a political enemy's knife), when the calligraphic copy that is so well known to every school child was ready shortly after 19 July, authenticator Thomson was not invited to sign it!
When he had retired from public life in 1789, Thomson was to turn his interest in the Bible and Greek to the 20-year task of producing this monumentally important work.
Its printer was the daughter of Robert Aitken, who had printed the first Bible in English in America. A major edition of the English Bible, this isessential for any Bible collection, not just for collections of American Bibles — though as an American Bible and simple Americanum it has a revered place.
Provenance: 19th-century signatures of D. Shields and of John K.Wilson in ink and pencil on title-pages. One of Wilson's signatures dated 1871.
Rumball-Petre, Rare Bibles, 184; Hills 153; Herbert 1514; O'Callaghan 91–92; Shaw & Shoemaker 14486; Hedak, Early American Women Printers and Publishers, 2042. On Thomson, see: Dictionary of American Biography, XVIII, 481–82. Recent quarter brown calf with stone-pattern marbled paper sides; a lightly tanned set with occasional light spotting only. A solid and very good set. (32628)
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