More Historic Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books
By Michael Stillman
David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their 98th catalogue of Rare Americana. Here are 124 new items pertaining to American history, primarily from colonial times to the First World War. The issues of the day are once again debated before our eyes in a David Lesser catalogue. We hear the arguments over slavery, pro and con, along with witnessing the disintegration of the Union, each side blaming the other. We hear revolutionaries calling out for independence from Britain, and theologians arguing the theological issues of the day. And, of course, there are the politicians, their supporters slandering each other with a vehemence that resembles politics today. If you are fascinated by American history, you will want to see this catalogue, and perhaps, own a few of the intriguing documents within its pages.
Here is something you didn't know about Lincoln, courtesy of the New York Minute Guard in October of 1864: "there is not an intelligent man in America who believes him fit for the Presidency of this Republic." Apparently, Lincoln was re-elected entirely by stupid people. The Minute Guard favored the election of General George McClellan, as Lincoln had changed the "War for the Union to a war for forcible Emancipation, Conscription, and Miscegenation." Unfortunately for the Minute Guard, McClellan proved no more successful as a political candidate than he was as a general. Item 77. Priced at $850.
Item 29 is one of those documents that signified the end of any hope of holding the Union together through compromise. From 1860, it is Breckenridge and Lane Campaign Documents, No. 9. Reply of Hon. Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, to the Speech of Senator Douglas, in the U.S. Senate, May 17 and 18, 1860. Stephen Douglas was still trying to push his policy of Popular Sovereignty, an anathema through much of the North as it allowed territories once barred from having slavery to choose to permit the hated institution. However, Davis attacked from the other side, claiming the national government was obligated to enforce slaveholders' "property rights" in the territories regardless of the locals' opinions. When Breckenridge and the southern Democrats bolted from Douglas' national party, the stage was set for Lincoln's election and the secession of the southern states. $250.
Item 28 includes twelve issues of The Eclaireur, published by Augustus Cowman (a grown-up cowboy?). Contrary to my initial expectation, this is not about bakers of those wonderful, cream-filled pastries. No, Colonel Cowman explains that an "eclaireur" is a mounted military scout who collects intelligence. This publication ran from 1853-1857, and was published in Franklin D. Roosevelt's hometown of Hyde Park, New York, though long before FDR was born. $500.