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African American History

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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, $2,500

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

16 x 20 Inch Photograph of St. Augustine, Florida, African American Cart Driver

[FLORIDA], George Barker, Albumen Print of African American cart driver at City Gate, St. Augustine, Florida, ca. 1889. On original mount, with photographer’s Niagara Falls backstamp. 1 p., 16 x 20 in.

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Canadian photographer George Barker was one of the first professional photographers to visit Florida. In the late 1880s, he documented the landscapes and people of northern and central Florida. Barker took this large-format photograph of an African American cartman at the city gate of St. Augustine.

Item #24249, $1,000

Frederick Douglass Signed Deed

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Document Signed as recorder of deeds, Washington, D.C., 1881-1886. Approx. 3½ x 8½” folded. Sample Frame pictured.

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While Douglass’s letters are scarce, documents signed during his tenure as recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia can be had very reasonably.

Item #20409, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Frederick Douglass Stands His Ground,
Discouraging the “Exodus” Movement (SOLD)

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Autograph Letter Signed to Charles Douglass. Washington, May 26, 1879. 1 p.

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“I have no fear of any permanent damage from the several attacks made upon me … on account of my views of the impolicy of Exodus as a scheme …”

Douglass assures his son that he has weighed and responded to the public attacks made on him, based on his opposition to the idea that African-Americans should organize a mass exodus from the South.

Item #21699, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Discontent with Gilded Age Presidential Politics
and the Influence of “the negro vote”

WILLIAM BEACH LAWRENCE, Autograph Letter Signed, to Henry Anthony. Newport [R.I.], November 25, 1872. 4 pp.

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A detailed, despairing letter on campaign politics after the reelection of Ulysses S. Grant. Lawrence observes the humiliating defeat of Democrats and “Liberal Republicans” – who united behind Horace Greeley because of corruption in the Grant administration – in the Election of 1872. Lawrence laments the elevation of personality over merit and virtue in elections, an observation which resonates today. He also expresses concern about how newly enfranchised African Americans tended to vote.  “The negroes are naturally disposed to support those who are in power & whom they invest with superior dignity, on account of the possession of power. …the extraordinary denouement of the Cincinnati Convention has placed in bold relief the mode most unsatisfactory to an intelligent people, by which party conventions are constituted & which are readily made, the instruments of the vilest partisan combinations, carried on by men without character & without principle.

Item #20020, $950

President Grant Preliminary Order Seeking to End Ku Klux Klan Violence in South Carolina

ULYSSES S. GRANT, Manuscript Document Signed, as President, directing Secretary of State Hamilton Fish to “affix the seal of the United States to the accompanying Proclamation commanding the persons composing certain unlawful combinations in the State of South Carolina to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes.” Washington, D.C. March 24, 1871, 1 p., 7.75 x 9.75 in.

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Accompanied by a modern printing of the text of Grant’s proclamation:

“Whereas it is provided in the Constitution that the United States shall protect every state in the Union… and …Whereas I have received information that combinations of armed men, unauthorized by law, are now disturbing the peace and safety of the citizens of the State of South Carolina and committing acts of violence … which render the power of the State and its officers unequal to the task of protecting live and property and securing public order therein…”ordering members of the Ku Klux Klan to “disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days…”

Item #27741, $7,500

New Hampshire Ridicules South Carolina’s Attempts
to Game the System After Rejecting the 14th Amendment

[AFRICAN AMERICAN], Broadside. “Part of a Speech of the N. H. “Champion of Democracy” on the Negro Question,” no place, [New Hampshire], c. 1867. 1 p., 9½ x 13½ in.

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Item #22840, $1,250

South Carolina’s Governor on the War’s Outcome:
“the Union has been preserved... and now give justice and equality to all its members.” (SOLD)

JAMES L. ORR, Autograph Quotation Signed as Governor. Columbia, S.C., September 14, 1866. 1 p., 7¾ x 6½ in. On State of South Carolina letterhead with embossed Great Seal of the affixed at upper left.

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Gov. James L. Orr, a former Speaker of the United Sates House, who then raised a Confederate regiment and served in the CSA’s Senate, notes the war’s two key outcomes: establishment of the “indissolubility” of the Union, which now must “give justice and equality to all its members.”

Item #22736, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Announcing Frederick Douglass’ Vermont Fair Speech on the Assassination of Lincoln

[FREDERICK DOUGLASS], Handbill for Lecture on the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, [September 27, 1865, Rutland, Vermont.] 1 p., 5-3/8 x 5-7/8 in.

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Possibly unique handbill advertising “Town Hall Lecture By the Great Colored Orator, Fred. Douglass, This Evening. Subject: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.” On the first day of the county fair, September 27, 1865, Douglass spoke to a packed Rutland, Vermont, Town Hall.

Doors open at 7 o’clock, Lecture to commence at 8 o’clock. Admission 25 cents. Tickets for sale at the Herald Book Store or at the Door.

Item #26165, $26,000

“Black bellied Yankees” at The Battle of Fort Blakely

FREDERICK MORTIMER CRANDAL, Autograph Letter Signed, to Julian E. Bryant. “Up the Alabama,” April 25, 1865. 4 pp.

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A Union colonel, in command of the 48th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops, writes to his friend, Col. Julian E. Bryant, of the 46th Regiment of U.S.C.T., recounting his regiment’s  part in the Battle of Fort Blakely. “We have had hard marching & hard fighting. A week in trenches & a successful charge. The ‘Black bellied Yankee’ made their mark … everyone gives us credit for doing well & I think we did excellently well.My loss was not very heavy, not over thirty all told. The other Regts in my Brigade suffered much more severely on the last charge, I being held in reserve & not being under fire but a few moments, they did gallantly…

Item #21813, $3,000

Congressional Copy of The 13th Amendment
Signed by Abraham Lincoln (SOLD)

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Document Signed (“Abraham Lincoln”) as President, [Washington, D.C., ca. February 1, 1865]. Co-signed by Hannibal Hamlin as Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate, Schuyler Colfax as Speaker of the House, 37 of the 38 senators and 114 of the 119 Congressmen who voted for it. One of six or seven known “Congressional” copies of the Thirteenth Amendment signed by Lincoln and members of the Senate and House who voted in favor of the resolution [and one of thirteen or fourteen known copies signed by Lincoln]. 1 page, 20 5/8 x 15 3/8”, engrossed on lined vellum.

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“Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States…”

Item #21902, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Congressmen Who Signed Thirteenth Amendment Abolishing Slavery

[THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT], Photomontage of the Congressional supporters of the Thirteenth Amendment, which ended slavery in the United States. Composite oval albumen photograph, 13¾ x 16 in., credited in negative, on the original mount, 18⅛ x 20¼ in. New York: G. M. Powell and Co., 1865. Manuscript annotation on verso: “George May Powell / Great National Picture / Photograph of Members of United States House of Representatives and the Senate who voted Aye on Resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States so as to prohibit slavery. Passed Senate April 1864. Passed House of Representatives January 1866 [1865]. Abraham Lincoln – president.”

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Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,...shall exist within the United States....

Item #27106, $1,950

‘Rally round the Flag, Boys!’ President Lincoln Centerfold

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Newspaper. Harper’s Weekly, October 1, 1864. 16 pp., complete, disbound.

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This October, 1864 issue of Harper’s Weekly has a magnificent centerfold engraving of President Lincoln—perfect for framing—with a patriotic poem below.

Item #H 10-1-1864, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The Success of Black Troops At Petersburg, Virginia, Under Butler

[CIVIL WAR], Broadside. New England Loyal Publication Society No. 200. Boston, Mass., June 27, 1864. 1 p., 9 x 10¾ in.

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“They grinned and pushed on, and with a yell that told the southern chivalry their doom, [they] rolled irresistibly over and into the work.”

Item #23626, $750

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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

“Free Pass... Constitutional Purifying Association”

[COPPERHEADS], Broadside, “A FREE PASS. Entitling the holder to the tender mercies of the CONSTITUTIONAL PURIFYING ASSOCIATION, Who will guarantee to cleanse every particle of Copperheadism from our nature - so you will be able to VOTE for an honest man without prejudice...” with several illustrations depicting “THE PURIFYING PROCESS.” [1864]. 6 x 9 in.

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Item #21986.03, SOLD — please inquire about other items

U.S. Colored Troops at Battle of Milliken’s Bend: “The colored troops bursted out on the rebel horde like a thunderbolt ...”

[AFRICAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS], Morgan J. Umsted, Autograph Letter Signed, to [cousin?], September 22, 1863, Vicksburg, Mississippi. 16 pp., 5-1/8 x 7-3/4 in.

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“The colored troops bursted out on the rebel horde like a thunderbolt and in less than 10 minets were the sole possessors of the field, the rebs having left rather sooner and in a different style than they (the rebs) had anticipated. After the fight was over our negro soldiers bayonetted the wounded rebs and then (to use the negroes style of speaking) planted them.”

Item #27206, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Abraham Lincoln Introduces Ulysses S. Grant’s Superintendent of Freed Slaves to the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission

Abraham Lincoln, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to Robert Dale Owen, July 22, 1863, Washington, D.C. On Executive Mansion stationery. 1 p., 5 x 8 in.

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“Mr John Eaton Jr. … having had charge of the freed-men … comes to me highly recommended by Gen. Grant, as you know, & also by Judge Swayne[1]of the U. S. Supreme Court.

On July 22, 1862, exactly a year before he wrote this letter, Lincoln read a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet, agreeing to Stanton’s advice to hold it back until the Union could claim a military victory. On September 22, after the Battle of Antietam, he issued a Preliminary Proclamation, stating that enslaved people in any areas still in rebellion would be freed, and that freed men would be welcomed into the armed forces of the United States. Once Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Secretary of War Edward Stanton worked to create a federal system to support freed slaves, and allow them to most effectively support the Union.

Item #26470, $85,000

“Men of Color, To Arms! A Call by Frederick Douglass.” (SOLD)

[AFRICAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS]. FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Newspaper. New York Tribune, March 5, 1863, 8 pp., 15½ x 20½ in. Disbound.

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Douglass entreats African Americans to join the 54th Massachusetts regiment in a speech of March 2, 1863, from Rochester, New York.

Item #22908, SOLD — please inquire about other items
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