Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2006 Issue

More Fascinating Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Joebrownloc

Georgia's Civil War Governor Joseph L. Brown, courtesy of Library of Congress.


In 1843, an attempt was made on his life, but he survived a gunshot wound and attacked his assailant with a knife. Perhaps his legendary toughness was part of the reason he lived to be almost 93. Item 24 is an 1844 printing of a Speech of Cassius M. Clay. Against the Annexation of Texas...in Reply to Col. R.M. Johnson...at the White Sulphur Springs...Kentucky, on Saturday, Dec. 30. 1843. Clay opposed the annexation of Texas because it was a slave state and breached a treaty with Mexico. Clay reportedly received little support from the pro-slavery audience. $450.

Item 32 is an interesting piece as it represents what may have been the last best chance to eliminate slavery peacefully and avoid the Civil War. Nat Turner's rebellion had stirred great unease in Virginia, and some white citizens were looking for a gradual way out, in keeping with the expectations of the Virginia founding fathers. On the other side, many southern leaders were in the process of turning from the view that slavery was a necessary evil, in time to be eliminated, to one that claimed it was some sort of righteous and good institution. Among those looking for a means of eliminating the cancer before it reached incurable proportions were Charles Faulkner from western Virginia and Thomas Jefferson Randolph, grandson of the Virginian President. They proposed a gradual abolition, one which would free all children of slaves born after July 4, 1840 (eight years in the future at the time). Item 32 is the other side, by William and Mary College Professor Thomas R. Dew, titled Review of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature of 1831 and 1832. Dew's racist justification of slavery carried the day, though it was a victory that a later generation of Virginia's young men would pay for dearly. $1,000.

On June 30, 1859, Rev. D. F. Bittle gave An Address Delivered before the Ladies of Wytheville Female College in the Pyesbyterian [sic] Church at the Annual Commencement... Bittle did not speak about the terrible national issues brewing at the time. His was of a more immediate issue in education, one which is still echoed to this day. Bittle states that American students "never are much troubled by parental discipline," and "they select the things they want to do and reject those to which they have no native proclivity. They generally...take such studies as are easy and reject such as afford trouble in their pursuit." In other words, students of a century and a half ago were the same as those of today. Item 12. $275.

Here is a book that needs no explanation, as its lengthy title tells it all: The Terrible Deeds of George L. Shaftsbury, who Killed his own Mother and Sister, Fled from Justice by Leaping from the Palisade, Swimming the Hudson River, and Taking Refuge in New York City, where He was Joined by the Female Murderer, Marie Lavine, whom He Detected in the Act of Dragging to the River the Body of a Man whom She had Murdered in One of the Dens on Walnut Street, in that City; and They, after Passing Through the Most Dark and Unparalleled Career of Crime, were finally Both Executed in Quebec, June 7, 1850. For the Murder of Lord Amel and Family. By J. Elligen, Queen's Attorney. Oddly, this tale was published in St. Louis in 1851. One other point about this lurid, horrific story -- Lesser says that it is "probably fictional." Item 36. $600.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be found online at www.lesserbooks.com, telephone 203-389-8111.

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