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Frederick Douglass’ Incredible Speech to Free Soil Party Convention on the Fugitive Slave Law

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Newspaper, Frederick Douglass’s Paper, Vol. V, No. 35. Rochester, August 20, 1852. 4 pp. 19 x 26-1/4 in. Inner masthead with the paper’s motto “All Rights for All!,” text in seven columns; some soiling and marginal chips and tears, small loss at central intersecting folds not affecting Douglass’ text.

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“The only way to make the Fugitive Slave Law a dead letter is to make half a dozen or more dead kidnappers….

“The man who takes the office of a bloodhound ought to be treated as a bloodhound; and I believe that the lines of eternal justice are sometimes so obliterated by a course of long continued oppression that it is necessary to revive them by deepening their traces with the blood of a tyrant….

“Human government is for the protection of rights; and when human government destroys human rights, it ceases to be a government, and becomes a foul and blasting conspiracy; and is entitled to no respect whatever…

Numbers [votes] should not be looked to so much as right. The man who is right is a majority. He who has God and conscience on his side, has a majority against the universe. Though he does not represent the present state, he represents the future state. If he does not represent what we are, he represents what we ought to be…”

Item #26141, $7,500

Powerful Anti-Slavery Argument Likely by John Laurens

ANTIBIASTES, Newspaper. “Observations on the slaves and the Indentured Servants inlisted in the Army…” Front page printing, in the Boston Gazette and Country Journal, October 13, 1777. Boston: Benjamin Edes. 4 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

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Also offered as part of the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

Many Slaves …share in the dangers and glory of the efforts made by US, the freeborn members of the United States, to enjoy, undisturbed, the common rights of human nature; and THEY remain SLAVES!... The enlightened equity of a free people, cannot suffer them to be ungrateful.

Item #24438, $4,800

Benjamin Franklin Calls For Abolition of Slavery, Washington Addresses the Dutch Reformed Church on Religious Freedom, Thanksgiving Thoughts, Hamilton’s Plans, and More

[BENJAMIN FRANKLIN], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. November 25, 1789, New York, N.Y., 4 pp., (pp. 257-60), 10 x 16 in.

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Also offered as part of the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

This important newspaper includes an October 9, 1789 letter to George Washington, with his Address responding To the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in North America discussing his gratitude for their support, thanks for the nation weathering the revolution and peacefully establishing constitutional government, and ensuring religious freedom. (p. 1, col. 3).

As well as a printing of Benjamin Franklin’s “Address to the Public from the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in bondage.”

Item #23116, ON HOLD

Jackie Robinson says a talk radio host “needs to do a lot of soul searching.”

JACKIE ROBINSON, Autograph Letter Signed, to Jon Anthony Dosa, ca. 1968-1969. Written on letterhead of St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco. 2 pp., 7¼ x 10½ in.

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He needs to do a lot of soul searching for he is the kind of guy we fear. His opportunity to spread his views and his cleverness will continue to be a stumbling block before we reach peace here at home.

Item #25009, $5,500

Gerald Ford Defends His Early Commitment to Civil Rights

GERALD R. FORD, Typed Letter Signed, to Arthur F. Bukowski, January 28, 1950, Washington, D.C. 2 pp., 8 x 10½ in. On Ford’s Congressional letterhead.

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This fascinating letter by freshman Congressman and future president Gerald R. Ford to a Catholic college president in Michigan defends his early record on civil rights legislation.

Personally, I have lived by and believe in the fundamental principle of equality of opportunity regardless of race, color or creed. I am in favor of such a policy for all citizens and will cooperate to accomplish that objective by the most practical and effective methods.

Item #26024, $1,200

Rare New York Senate Print of Proposed State Law to Combat the Dred Scott Decision

SLAVERY AND ABOLITION—NEW YORK STATE, New York Senate. “An Act To secure Freedom to all persons within this State,” Edward M. Madden, April 9, 1857, Passed the Assembly on April 17; failed in the Senate. Printed with numbered lines for the use of the Senate. 1 p., 6.5 x 11.5 in.

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Every slave … who shall come or be brought, or be involuntarily in this state shall be free.

Item #23389.07, $2,500

Alex Haley Signs Check to the Cornell University Black Alumni Association

ALEX HALEY, Signed Check, June 9, 1989. Drawn on the First Tennessee Bank in Knoxville. To “Cornell Univ. Black Alumni Assn.”. With “donation” in the memo field.

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Item #20432.04, $500

Alex Haley Signed Check

ALEX HALEY, Signed Check, September 20, 1988. Drawn on the First Tennessee Bank in Knoxville. To “Patricia Alexander”. With “Love!” in the memo field and on the back is her endorsement and a note that says “Thanks!”.

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Item #20432.02, $350

Amistad Slave Revolt Supreme Court Opinion, in Washington, D.C. Newspaper

[AMISTAD], Newspaper. Daily National Intelligencer, March 15, 1841. Washington, DC: Joseph Gales and William W. Seaton. 4 pp.

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The story of La Amistad, its dramatic capture by Africans aboard, and the resulting lawsuits gained international attention from 1839 to 1841. Abolitionists rallied to the cause of freeing the Africans transported illegally across the Atlantic into Spanish slavery, while proslavery advocates saw the case as an assault on property rights. This issue presents the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court on the case, starting on the front page.

Item #25678, $1,900

Amistad Slave Revolt Supreme Court Decision Announced

[AMISTAD], Newspaper. Daily National Intelligencer, March 10, 1841. Washington, DC: Joseph Gales and William W. Seaton. 4 pp.

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The story of La Amistad, its dramatic capture by Africans aboard, and the resulting lawsuits gained international attention from 1839 to 1841. Abolitionists rallied to the cause of freeing the Africans transported illegally across the Atlantic into Spanish slavery, while proslavery advocates saw the case as an assault on property rights.

Item #25677, $1,150

“George Washington” - Keith Carter Photograph

[GEORGE WASHINGTON]. KEITH CARTER, Photograph. Child holds his copy of Gilbert Stuart’s famous “Athenaeum” portrait of George Washington. 1990. Number 6 of 50, 15 x 15 in.

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Item #25394, $4,800

Union League of Philadelphia Supports Lincoln on Emancipation, African-American Troops in 1864

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. HENRY CHARLES LEA, Printed Pamphlet. No. 18: The Will of the People, [January – April 1864]. 8 pp., 5½ x 8½ in.

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The will of the people is supreme.

The vital principle of [Lincoln’s] whole administration has been his recognition of the fact, that our Government is simply a machine for carrying into effect THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE.

Item #24899, $250

Stirring Pamphlet Defense of Abner Kneeland in His Massachusetts Trials for Blasphemy

[CIVIL RIGHTS], Pamphlet. A Review of the Prosecution Against Abner Kneeland, for Blasphemy. By a Cosmopolite [likely David Henshaw]. Boston: n.p., 1835. Includes a two-page manuscript laid in, “From the Boston Advocate, Nov. 19, 1834,” describing Kneeland’s trial and his representation of himself. 32 pp., 5¼ x 8⅝ in.

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In this pamphlet, a pseudonymous author defends rights of conscience, speech, and the press, amidst the trials of Abner Kneeland for violating a rarely enforced 1782 Massachusetts statute against blasphemy. Between 1834 and 1838, Kneeland’s words were the subject of four jury trials, two convictions, and a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court review of his conviction before he served sixty days in prison.

Item #25429, $1,250

Rare Jim Crow Broadside from Father of American Minstrelsy

[AFRICAN AMERICAN], Printed Broadside. “The Extravaganza of Jim Crow!” ca. 1832-1838. As sung by Thomas D. Rice. 1 p., 5⅛ x 16 in.

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Item #25605, $4,500

William Monroe Trotter - the first African American to earn a Phi Beta Kappa key at Harvard - pushes a petition calling for mercy for still imprisoned soldiers of the 24th US Colored Infantry

WILLIAM MONROE TROTTER, Typed Letter Signed, to Albert P. Wadleigh, Boston, February 1, 1924. With a blank printed petition to President Calvin Coolidge, and an envelope to return the petition to the National Equal Rights League in Boston. 2 pp.

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To free by pardon or on parole the Colored soldiers of the gallant 24th in Fort Leavenworth federal prison already so long for retaliation, poorly proven or not proven at all, against goading insult and provocation and insult to women of their race. We do now ask whether you will grant this special plea for clemency.

The Secretary of the National Equal Rights League writes to a Massachusetts state senator asking for his support for clemency for black soldiers imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth. The drive on behalf of soldiers convicted of participation in the 1917 Houston riot, resulted in 124,000 signatures, and reduction in the sentences of the 54 soldiers still in prison. (19 of the soldiers had already been executed).

Item #24171, $1,750

Swedish immigrant uses racist “Pickaninny” imagery on a hand-painted envelope

[AFRICAN AMERICAN]. GUSTAF NORDSTROM, Handmade Postal Cover, to Frederick Nordstrom, February [25], 1902, Brooklyn, New York. 1 p., 11½ x 5 in.

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Swedish sign painter in New York uses racial stereotypes on envelope to tell his brother in Florida that he misses him.

Item #25043, $650

Frederick Douglass Rejects Colonization in Rare Issue of His Abolitionist Newspaper, The North Star

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Newspaper, The North Star, June 2, 1848 (Volume I, No. 23). [Rochester, NY: John Dick]. 4 pp., 18 x 24½ in.

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We have as much right to stay here as he has… I want to say to our white friends, that we, colored folks, have had the subject under careful consideration, and have decided to stay! I want to say to any colonization friends here, that they may give their minds no further uneasiness on our account, for our minds are made up.”

Item #23348.01, $17,500

Quaker Farmer Writes to Congressman Morgan to Condemn Stephen Douglas’ Nebraska Bill Allowing Slavery in New Territories

JOHN SEARING, Autograph Letter Signed, to Edwin B. Morgan, February 20, 1854, Poplar Ridge, New York. 2 pp. plus integral address leaf, 7¾ x 9¾ in.

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what shall I say of Douglas’s infamous Nebraska bill now I suppose pending in the Senate  I feel indeed at a loss for language to convey my abhorrence of so vile a scheme.... I never knew such united indignation against any thing as pervades the community here respecting the bill…

A Quaker farmer in western New York writes to his representative in Congress, mentioning a petition (not present) and universal opposition. He praises Morgan’s letter to New Yorkers as “plain unvarnished protest against wickedness.” Within three months, the Nebraska bill became the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Item #25145, $1,250

His Grandmother-in-Law Can’t Spare a “Stacker” for John Augustine Washington III – Letter Delivered by Freed Washington Family Slave West Ford Includes List of Mount Vernon Slaves

[SLAVERY. MOUNT VERNON. WEST FORD]. MARY BOWLES [ARMISTEAD] SELDEN, Autograph Letter Signed, to John Augustine Washington III, hand delivered by West Ford; JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON III. Autograph List of Slaves. In light pencil on verso. [Alexandria, Virginia], [1845].

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Mary B. Selden was the grandmother of Eleanor Love Selden, who married John Augustine Washington III in 1843. She regrets not being able to furnish Washington with the services of one of her slaves as a stacker for the upcoming wheat harvest.

Still a faithful employee, West Ford worked for the Washington family well into the nineteenth century, including delivering this letter.

The letter includes a list of two dozen slaves written in pencil on the verso by John Augustine Washington III.

Item #24737, $5,500

Former President and Future Confederate Supporter John Tyler Forcefully Defends the Fugitive Slave Act and the “Southern Cause,” Attacks the NY Press, and Plays up His Own Service in the War of 1812

JOHN TYLER, Autograph Letter Signed and Autograph Manuscript Signed several times in the third person. Sent to S. Cunningham, from Sherwood Forest, October 12, 1850, 1 p., 9⅜ x 7¼ in. on blue paper marked “Private,” being the cover letter for the manuscript, written for anonymous publication: “The fugitive slave bill and Commissioner Gardiner,” [ca. October 12, 1850], 2 pp., 9⅜ x 7⅞ in. on blue paper.

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In the first fugitive slave law case, which came before his cousin Commissioner Gardiner: “The fugitive was promptly dealt by and restored to his owner in Baltimore. Mr. Gardiner has proven himself to be a faithful public servant, an honest man, and a Patriot. And yet, by a certain class of Editors in New York he is sneered at…

Tyler criticizes two NY editors in particular: “Now what jackasses are Mssrs Herricks and Ropes… These would-be somethingarians [a colloquialism, usually used as an insult] in the first place, deem it a matter of censure in a judge, to execute the law—and, in the next they show their ignorance … by ascribing to Mr. Tyler under their witty soubriquet of Captain (a title he is well content to wear since he enjoyed it during the war of 1812 with Great Britain)…

Item #24043, $24,000
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