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The Brutal Legal Reality of Slaves as Property

[SLAVE TRADE], Manuscript Document. Mortgage of Ephraim Butler to John E. Lewis, DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, April 12, 1855. 2 pp., with integral leaf with docketing on verso. 7¾ x 12½ in.

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Ephraim Butler...does by these presents specially mortgage, and hypothecate in favour of the said J E Lewis the following discribed and named slaves... Louisa a negro woman of dark complexion aged about twenty eight years, Stephen a Boy black complexion aged about nine years Cezar a boy also Black aged about five years Roze a girl aged two years…

Enslaved African Americans like Louisa, Stephen, Cezar, and Rose were property, lawfully bought, sold and used as collateral to secure loans. When planter Ephraim Butler became indebted to Dr. John E. Lewis for nearly $500, he gave the physician a promissory note secured with a mortgage on his slaves.

Item #24717, $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

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

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

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

Frederick Douglass on West Indies Emancipation in Rare Issue of his Abolitionist Newspaper The North Star

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Newspaper, The North Star, August 4, 1848 (Volume I, No. 32). [Rochester, NY: John Dick]. 4 pp., 18 x 24½ in.

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On this day, ten years ago, eight hundred thousand slaves became freemen… The great fact we this day recognize— the great truth to which we have met to do honor, belongs to the whole human family.

Item #23348.04, $16,000

Frederick Douglass on the Seneca Falls Convention in Rare Issue of The North Star, His Abolitionist Newspaper

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Newspaper, The North Star, July 28, 1848 (Volume I, No. 31). [Rochester, NY: John Dick]. 4 pp., 18 x 24½ in.

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Standing as we do upon the watch-tower of human freedom, we cannot be deterred from an expression of our approbation of any movement, however humble, to improve and elevate the character of any members of the human family.... we are free to say, that in respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man.

This remarkable issue includes Frederick Douglass’ famous editorial, “The Rights of Women” on the Seneca Falls Convention, which he attended in person on July 19-20.

Item #23348.03, $24,000

“Abolition’s Golden Trumpet” Wendell Phillips in Rare Issue of The North Star, Frederick Douglass’ Abolitionist Newspaper

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Newspaper, The North Star, June 9, 1848 (Volume I, No. 24). [Rochester, NY: John Dick]. 4 pp., 18 x 24½ in.

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Our object is the abolition of slavery, and these meetings which we hold are mainly but the means for that purpose. There is of course a great variety of opinions as to the most proper means for the abolition of slavery. It is natural there should be, as long as men think independently—and it is only from independent thinking that such a cause as ours, or any unpopular cause, gets either sympathy or aid.” (p1/c1)

In a notable intersection of these two abolitionist giants early in their careers, Frederick Douglass reprints on the front page over five columns a speech by Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) delivered in Philadelphia in May 1848. Phillips focused his remarks on improving abolitionist strategies and organization.

Item #23348.02, $14,000

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, $16,000

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

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

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

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

Seven months after a race riot that destroyed African American houses of worship, Quaker philanthropist leases building to First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia

[AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY]. ISAAC COLLINS, Manuscript Document Signed, March 13, 1835, Philadelphia, 1 p., agreeing to lease the first floor of a two-story brick building on Fries Court to the African Baptist Church. With a full page of endorsements on the verso, signed by Collins and trustees of the church (three of whom sign with “X” marks), raising the rent after the room was enlarged, and on March 13, 1838, extending the leasing for three years. 8 x 12½ in.

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Under the leadership of its African American pastor, born a slave in Virginia, the church saw its membership grow from 60 to 252 members.

Item #25177, $2,750

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

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, 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

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

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

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
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