David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their Catalogue 151 ofRare Americana. This time there are several British items here, but most go back to colonial days when America was part of the British empire, so that's close enough. Otherwise, what we find are primarily pamphlets and other shorter form paper, ranging from colonial days to roughly Reconstruction. Here are a few samples.
This being an election year, we will begin with some political comments that some readers will like, others not. "All men who chased me with blood-hounds were Democrats, that tried to starve me to death were Democrats...[I]n fact my friends the majority of outlaws are Democrats, all Anarchists are Democrats. How can a decent man belong to such a bone spavined rotten crowd." Surprisingly, this is not a quote from Donald Trump. Rather, it came from one Eppenetus Washington McIntosh. McIntosh had his reason for disliking Democrats. He was a Union soldier during the Civil War, and while there were some pro-Union War Democrats in the North, most northerners were Republicans at the time, southerners Democrats. That would still be the case when McIntosh gave this speech years later in 1892. He had been captured during the war and spent six months in the horrors of the Andersonville prison, where 13,000 Union soldiers died from disease and malnutrition. If that wasn't enough, once released at the end of the war, he was one of the Union soldiers riding on the steamship Sultana back to his home in Illinois when it exploded, killing 1,800 of the 2,300 passengers onboard. McIntosh was blown into the water and managed to swim to a sandbar. Item 112 is A Speech Made by Rev. E.W. McIntosh, at Harmitage [sic], MO, Aug. 15, 1892. It is a broadside recitation of his words that day, which includes a few more choice ones for Democrats, who "lived for years in open adultery with a harlot called slavery: lived with her until she died of corruption and was buried amid the sobs and groans of her paramour." In defense of the Democratic Party, it should be pointed out that McIntosh was something of a crackpot. He had some sort of certificate from the Methodist Church he used for reduced fares, but it is questionable whether he was actually a reverend. He claimed that as a boy he did office work for Abraham Lincoln. He was institutionalized in an insane asylum for a while and received a military pension for insanity. However, that pension was reduced when it was discovered he didn't need full time care, as attested by the fact that he was able to travel around giving speeches. His physical health was good enough that he lived another 35 years. Priced at $175.
Immigrants being the focus of a presidential election is nothing new. They were never more a focus than in the election of 1856. At that time, the controversy raged over Irish and German immigrants, with a healthy dose of anti-Catholic sentiment thrown in. During the prior two years, the American Party, more familiarly known as the "Know-Nothings," blossomed from the fringes to major status. They even managed to get a former President, Millard Fillmore of the now defunct Whig Party, to run on their ticket. Item 95 is the Principles and Objects of the American Party, put out by a group of Know-Nothings from the 15th ward of New York City. They attack immigrants as being "ignorant of our institutions and laws, often ignorant of our language, necessarily in all cases unimbued with the traditional and native sentiment which gives life and permanence to our institutions." The party credo was "Americans should be governed only by Americans." The Know-Nothings made a strong showing, Fillmore gathering 21% of the vote, though that was only enough to carry one state – Maryland. The party quickly faded away after this election, as the split between North and South which would soon lead to civil war became the dominant issue. $250.
The anti-Catholic sentiment pervading the 1856 election can be seen by the very existence of this item: Col. Fremont Not a Roman Catholic. Evidently, some of his opponents must have been making such a claim, under the assumption it would damage his candidacy. Fremont was the nominee of the newly created Republican Party, running against Fillmore and Democrat James Buchanan. The writer explains that while it is true Fremont once made a cross upon a rock on one of his expeditions, and was married by a Catholic priest, this does not mean he is a Catholic. Fremont was raised and considered himself Episcopalian, and said he was married by a priest for want of another clergyman available to perform the ceremony. The controversy evidently did not benefit either Fremont or Know-Nothing Fillmore, as Buchanan won the election. Item 67. $250.
In keeping with a presidential theme, item 45 is a presidential portrait, a lithograph created by Nathaniel Currier, from his early days, long before the partnership with James Ives. If this were a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, you can be sure it would cost you a pretty penny. You're in luck. It isn't. Rather, it is an 1837 lithograph of President Martin Van Buren. Van Buren, Andrew Jackson's hand-picked successor, had a rough time when the economy went south and was defeated for reelection in 1840. However, he had this in common with Lincoln. He became a strong opponent of slavery, later running, like Fillmore, unsuccessfully on a third-party ticket (the anti-slavery Free Soil Party). $375.
People today tend to be heavier than they were in the 19th century – too much good, or perhaps too much bad, as in unhealthy, food. However, the 19th century had its weighty people, and one of them was celebrated in this 1818 pamphlet: The Life of that Wonderful and Extraordinarily Heavy Man. Daniel Lambert, from his Birth to the Moment of his Dissolution; with an Account of Men Noted for their Corpulency... Lambert was an Englishman, and the heaviest verifiably known man on earth up to that point. He was strong and athletic as a youth, and claimed he did not overeat or drink alcohol. He had no visible signs of diseases that might have caused him to be so overweight, and managed to get around well despite his bulk. He had held a position as a jailer, but when that jail closed, he made money, when it was needed, by displaying himself. Lambert died suddenly one morning in 1809 at the age of 39, though up until ten minutes earlier he was feeling fine. At his death, Lambert weighed 739 pounds, and wheels were placed on his coffin so that it could be moved to his grave. Item 96. $750.