Fact, Fiction, and More from Bauman Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
Bauman Rare Books, of New York and Philadelphia, recently issued a catalogue of "New Acquisitions." There are no particular limits on the type of material Bauman offers, but here are the concentrations we found in this catalogue: most works are in the English language, primarily American, though many are from Britain. There are numerous works of historic and scientific importance, many signed first editions of great 20th century literature, as well as classic children's books, and collections of great works. Again, these are concentrations. There are others in this catalogue outside of these areas. You will have to see it to appreciate the depth. The common thread that runs through everything in the Bauman catalogue is that there is nothing of insignificance. A work had to be of importance to be included. Here are some of the things we found.
Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural speech was a masterwork, as was his famed Gettysburg Address. However, events so quickly overtook it that this speech quickly faded to irrelevancy. After Lincoln's election, the southern states announced their secession, well before Lincoln actually took office. Nonetheless, in his inaugural address, Lincoln held out the olive branch of peace. He reassured the southern states that he would not interfere with slavery in the South, nor inhibit enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Laws. He felt the only serious issue to be resolved was whether slavery would be extended to the new territories, which he believed could be settled peaceably. Lincoln even went so far as to say he would not confront localities which had denied entrance to federal officials, preferring to allow hostilities to settle down before enforcing federal rights. However, the one issue on which he was firm and unyielding was the preservation of the Union. This would be defended whatever the cost. Lincoln concluded by tossing the ball into the Southerners' court: "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it." The South would respond within a few weeks at Fort Sumter, and Lincoln's spirit of conciliation would be replaced by his unbreakable will to preserve the Union. A copy of the second printing of Lincoln's first inaugural, as ordered by the Senate four days after it was given, is offered by Bauman Rare Books as item 122. Priced at $6,000.
If Lincoln's first inaugural is not that well remembered, FDR's is one of his most famous speeches. It is best remembered for his line, uttered in the sinking depths of the Great Depression, "let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself; nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Using Biblical parallels, Roosevelt lays the blame for the nation's financial problems on greedy individuals who control the exchange of goods, the "money changers." He calls on the nation to reach for higher principles. "The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit," says Roosevelt. Roosevelt castigates those who put the possession of money above the joy of work and accomplishment, and pledges to enact programs to bring work back to unemployed America. Item 9 is an advance issue of the first edition of Roosevelt's 1933 inaugural. $32,000.