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The First Published Book by an African-American Woman

PHILLIS WHEATLEY, Book. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. First edition, with the advertisement on the final page reading “Lately published in 2 vols. Twelves...” and engraved frontispiece portrait after Scipio Morehead (second state). London: Archibald Bell, 1773, for Cox and Berry, Boston. 128 pp., 4⅜ x 6¾ in. Modern half brown leather, marbled sides.

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“Celestial muse, my arduous flight sustain
And raise my mind to a seraphic strain!”

—from Wheatley’s“Thoughts on the Works of Providence”

Item #23638, PRICE ON REQUEST

The American Museum Magazine Considers Race and Slavery, Bound Together with Congressional Proceedings
on the Bill of Rights

MATHEW CAREY, Magazine. The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, &c. Volume VI, July to December, 1789. 492 pp., plus 46 pp. bound in, Proceedings of Congress, from the First Session of the First Congress, including the process of amending the U.S. Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights. With ownership signature of Connecticut Revolutionary War General Jedediah Huntington on free front endpaper. Dedicated in type to George Washington. Bound in contemporary calf, binding worn, small library label on spine, some staining on title page, several pages trimmed near end, with minor loss of text, primitive drawings of soldiers on back endpaper.

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Item #22660, $2,400

Gov. Harry Lee Requests All Virginia Slave Condemnation Cases for Clemency Review

HENRY “LIGHT HORSE” HARRY LEE, Printed Document Signed as Governor of Virginia, Circular Letter Richmond, January 25, 1794. 1 p., 6 ½ x 8 in.

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“Light Horse” Harry Lee was a Revolutionary War hero, governor of Virginia, and father to famous Civil War General Robert E. Lee. Here, he requests that county clerks fill positions of “Escheator,” persons overseeing land reverting to the state if there are no heirs, and adds that he would like the clerks to inform him of any cases of a slave condemned for crimes where the “person be considered as an object of mercy or not…”

Item #25033, $3,900

Unusual Oyster Bay NY Slave Manumission

[SLAVERY], Manuscript Document Signed. New York, N.Y., May 21, 1813. 1 p., 8 x 9½ in.

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Samuel Young and Zebulon Frost, “Overseers of the Poor of Oysterbay” certify that a slave named Lizzie is freed.

Item #23621, ON HOLD

An Overseer is Guilty of Murdering His Slave
by “Stocks, Starvation and Lashes.”

[SLAVERY], Manuscript Document Signed by George Newman, Edward T. Smith, Sheppard Taylor, Elijah Norman, Hezekiah Kibbee, David Collins, and Daniel Greenleaf. Adams County, Mississippi, December 16, 1821, 1p., 8 5/8 x 12 3/8 in.

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A Mississippi inquest holds a slave overseer accountable for killing a slave.

Item #22479, $2,000

James Madison Signed Membership Form
as President of American Colonization Society

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.

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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.

Item #21876, $4,500

The Amistad: an Arresting Engraving of the Revolt

[AMISTAD], Broadside Print, Death of Capt. Ferrer, the Captain of the Amistad, July, 1839. Original hand coloring. Originally appeared with an 1840 New Haven Pamphlet, A History of the Amistad Captives...Also An Account of the Trials.

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Item #21957, $15,000

Cinque, Leader of the Amistad Revolt Autograph at an Abolitionist Fundraiser in Philadelphia

CINQUE, Autograph as Leader of the Amistad Captives. Philadelphia, Pa., May 27, 1841. 1 p. Also signed by F-foole [Fuli]. With two endorsements in unknown hand, the later one possibly written by Charles Evans in pencil.

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Cinque was an almost mythic figure during the controversies and legal cases surrounding the slave ship Amistad in 1839-1841. He freed himself and the other Africans in the hold of the Amistad, initiated the revolt that captured the ship, and led the ships’ voyage from waters near Cuba to the United States. After being captured off the coast of Long Island, while imprisoned in Connecticut as the Africans’ status was debated by the U.S. Supreme Court, Cinque learned to speak and write English. (That they spoke Mende was discovered by a linguistics professor at Yale, who then found translators—two escaped slaves who spoke both languages).

After winning their freedom, Cinque and some others embarked on a lecture tour to New York and Philadelphia in May 1841 to raise funds for their return home. Their enthusiastic reception by the abolitionist movement made for a busy schedule.  Among the stops, Cinque visited the Lombard Street School for black children in Philadelphia. 

This autograph, signed at the Lombard school on May 27, 1841, is one of only two or three known original signatures of Cinque.

Item #21884, PRICE ON REQUEST

Horace Greeley on Publication of a Letter
by Abolitionist Cassius Clay

HORACE GREELEY, Autograph Letter Signed in full and with initials, to Ephraim George Squier [ed. of Hartford Whig Daily Journal], New York, March 26, 1844. 1 p.

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Noted abolitionist Cassius Clay wrote a letter that supported his slaveholding cousin Henry Clay’s run for the presidency while simultaneously attacking the foundations of slavery and its entrenchment in American political life. Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, writes to a Hartford newspaper editor asking him to take care that every Abolitionist reads this letter this week.”

Item #20729, $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. Single folio leaf with autograph address 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 by John Augustine Washington III.

Item #24737, $8,500

Three Slave Sale Documents from Louisiana, 1846-1857, Including Some across State Lines

[LOUISIANA SLAVE SALES], Archive of 3 Partly Printed Documents accomplished in Manuscript, 1846 to 1857, Louisiana, each signed by government official with embossed seals. 8 pp. total plus dockets.

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Archive of three official court papers from New Orleans and St. Landry, Louisiana, dealing with the sales of 5 slaves, using the same form as the sale of real estate.  One of the sales transfers slaves from Virginia.

Item #21949, $1,150

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 page, 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 pages, 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

John Brown, Jr.’s Copy of the
“The Legislative Guide … Rules for Conducting Business in Congress; Jefferson’s Manual; and The Citizens’ Manual...”

[JOHN BROWN, JR.], Signed Book, The Legislative Guide, Containing All the Rules for Conducting Business in Congress; Jefferson’s Manual [of Parliamentary Practice]; and The Citizens’ Manual..., Philadelphia, Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1852, 317 pp., 5 ½ x 8 ¼ in.

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Signed twice by John Brown’s oldest child, who in 1856, was elected to the Kansas territorial legislature.

Item #22126, $1,500

Boston Congregational Society Sermons

THEODORE PARKER, Signed Book. Two sermons preached before the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society in Boston...On leaving old and entering new place of worship. Boston: 1853. 1st ed. 8vo. 56pp. Inscribed by Parker.

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Item #21288, $950

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

A Dredful Decision, First Edition

BENJAMIN C. HOWARD, Book. Report of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Opinions of the Judges thereof, in the Case of Dred Scott versus John F.A. Sandford, December Term, 1856., Washington, D.C.: Cornelius Wendell, 1857. With two ownership signatures of “John R. Slack / Sept. 1857.” Slack was a N.J. attorney who had previously helped win a fugitive slave case. First edition. Fine condition. 239 pp. 5½ x 8¾ in.

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In Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), the Supreme Court declared that blacks could not be United States citizens and that the 1820 Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. The decision inflamed sectional tensions and helped trigger the Civil War. The decision was published simultaneously in New York and Washington, D.C. Both are considered the First Edition. In his “House Divided” Speech, Lincoln replied that the decision did “obvious violence to the plain unmistakable language” of the Declaration of Independence and our other founding documents.

Item #22178, $3,500

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

[SLAVERY AND ABOLITION--NEW YORK STATE], Print. New York Assembly. “An Act To secure Freedom to all persons within this State,” Samuel A. Foot, April 9, 1857, Printed with numbered lines for the use of the Assembly and not for public distribution. 1 p.

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

Item #24129, $2,200

John Brown Accepts Money, and a Pair of Pants, for the Anti-Slavery Cause – A Year to the Day Before His Execution for Leading the Failed Harper’s Ferry Slave Insurrection

JOHN BROWN, Autograph Document Signed Twice. Receipt to Samuel L. Adair, Osawatomie, Kansas, December 2, 1858, 1 p. 3½ x 7½ in.

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Item #23687.01, $12,000

The 1858 Debates that Propelled Lincoln to National Attention

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Book. Political Debates Between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, in the Celebrated Campaign of 1858, in Illinois. Columbus, Ohio: Follett, Foster, and Co., 1860. 3rd edition, with publisher’s advertisements bound in. 268 pp., 6½ x 9½ in.

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Item #22476, $1,500

Charles Sumner Calls for a Zone of Freedom to Contain and Transform the Slave States

CHARLES SUMNER, Autograph Quotation Signed, from a speech given at the Cooper Institute in New York City on July 11, 1860, “The Republican Party; Its Origin, Necessity and Permanence.” Boston, July 25, 1860. 1 p., 5 x 8 in.

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Item #24704, $750
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