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INV-21876 JAMES MADISON Document Signed. “Office of the Colonization Society.” Washington, [ca. 1833-1836]. With Society’s seal engraved at bottom center (a ship sailing towards Liberia, with Latin motto “Lex in Tenebris” – light amid darkness). 1 p., 8¼ x 11⅛ in. 1833-01-01

A rare blank membership certificate, signed in advance by the Society’s President. It would have conferred a life membership in the controversial American Colonization Society, which advocated gradual manumission of slaves and colonization of freed blacks to Liberia.

Signed membership certificates from the Society are relatively rare. Only four have appeared in major auction records in the last 30 years. According to the Library of Congress, “Selling life memberships was a standard fund-raising practice of benevolent societies such as the American Colonization Society. At thirty dollars each, the memberships were a popular gift for ministers. In 1825, one of the agents who sold the certificates in New England estimated that ‘not less than $50,000 have in this way been poured into the treasury of the Lord.’”

This is a superb artifact of antebellum America. It marks the commitment of the “Father of the Constitution” to a solution to the race dilemma that would be castigated today, but which was moderate for its time.

$ 4,500.00 [Remove]
Subtotal $ 4,500.00
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TOTAL $ 4,500.00