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African American History

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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

Administering the law in Reconstruction North Carolina: Account book of Deputy U.S. Marshal including first arrests under the Civil Rights Act of 1866

ROBERT C. KEHOE, Manuscript Account Book, with U.S. Marshal Daniel R. Goodloe, 1865-1868, Pamlico District, North Carolina. 267 pp., 7½ x 12 in.

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Detailing costs owed to Daniel R. Goodloe, U.S. Marshal, for services performed by Robert C. Kehoe, Deputy U.S. Marshal, for the Pamlico District in eastern North Carolina. Recording Kehoe’s service of writs, summonses, and warrants; his arrests and seizures; notices published; and fees. The entries generally note the suspect and the charges in criminal cases including civil rights violations; counterfeiting; theft of government horses. From the North Carolina coast, crimes include smuggling and assault on the high seas with intent to kill.

Item #24688, $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

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

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

The Civil Rights Act of 1963

[CIVIL RIGHTS], Printed Document, 1963. 11 pp. 5 ⅞ x 9 ⅛ in.

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Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives…

Item #20820, $275

Blanche Bruce, The First Full-term African American U.S. Senator Signs a Deed

BLANCHE BRUCE, Document Signed. Land deed. Washington, D.C. October 2, 1890. Signature panel 8¼ x 3½ in., overall dimensions 8¼ x 14 in.

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Blanche Bruce was the first full-term African American to serve in the U.S. Senate, 1875-1881. He was then appointed by President James Garfield as Register of the U.S. Treasury in 1881. He later served as the Washington, D.C. Recorder of Deeds (a position earlier held by Frederick Douglass), 1890-1893 and again as Register of the Treasury from 1897 until his death in 1898.

Item #22945.19, $125

Fascinating 1980s Notes by Eldridge Cleaver, Former Black Panther Radical Become Conservative Republican

ELDRIDGE CLEAVER, Archive of notes for speeches and other notes, ca. 1980-1987. 29 pp., various sizes, most on cardstock, 5 x 7 in. to 6⅝ x 9¾ in.

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Some American poet has said, Send me men to match my mountains. How embarrassing to reflect on that today. Are even the volcanoes in our blood extinct?

These notes illustrate the life and views of Eldridge Cleaver in the 1980s, far removed from the Black Panther revolutionary of the 1960s. He espouses a conservative political ethic based on the positive vision of the Founding Fathers and a virulent opposition to communism, a trait he shared with evangelicals, Mormons, and Moon’s Unification Church. While he had been a strong opponent of Governor Ronald Reagan in the 1960s, Cleaver here praises President Reagan as the “No. 1 Freedom Fighter” in the 1980s. Looking back to the Monroe Doctrine, he strongly calls for free trade and open borders, eventually leading to unification of all the Americas.

A collection of his handwritten notes and drafts of speeches, lectures, and letters to the editor, together with a few more routine pages listing contacts and notes from newspaper reading.

Item #25332, $3,750

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

Louis Armstrong describes his historic tour behind the Iron Curtain, and talks about lip salve and love

LOUIS ARMSTRONG, Autograph Letter Signed, to Erich Kauffmann, April 17, 1965, Corona, Queens, New York. On “Satchmo” stationery. 6 pp.

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“When two people loved each other like you & Hilde did you must feel contented… Stay happy. I preach those same words to Lucille Lots of times during our life together. I have so much happiness from the life she and I have already live together until I don’t want No Misery from which ever one should leave this EarthLAST’”

During the 1950s, the State Department sent jazz musicians on international goodwill tours. As a uniquely American form of music, jazz could display the best of American culture with artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. This letter, written to a German friend between his visits behind the Iron Curtain to East Berlin, East Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, reflects his busy schedule at the height of his popularity in 1965.

Item #25336, $2,500

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

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

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

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

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

Responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Invalidation of Anti-Discrimination Laws, a New Jersey Congressman Unsuccessfully Attempts to Ensure Civil Rights at the Start of the Jim Crow Era

[CIVIL RIGHTS]. JOHN HILL, Broadside. Assembly No 13., State of New Jersey. An Act to Prevent Discrimination against Any Person on Account of his Race, Creed or Color. Large folio sheet, with numbered lines, printed for the use of the legislature. [New Jersey], Introduced January 9, 1883.

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“Be it enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, That no person shall be denied the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of all hotels, inns, taverns, restaurants, public conveyances on land or water, theatres and places of public resort or amusement, because of race, creed or color…”

Item #24742, $1,250

Ulysses S. Grant Follows Up on African American Troops’ First Battle at Milliken’s Bend: “Drive the enemy from Richmond. Reinforce Mower all you can and send him to do it.”

ULYSSES S. GRANT, Autograph Note Signed, to Elias S. Dennis, June 13, 1863, 1 p. 7¾ x 2½ in.

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Grant was determined to take Vicksburg, and retaking the surrounding countryside in Mississippi and across the river in Louisiana were critical parts of his plan. Here, he moves around troops to further his design after an important showing by the USCT a few days earlier. In his Memoirs, Grant observed that “This was the first important engagement of the war in which colored troops were under fire,” and he praised their actions.

Item #24508, $4,000
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