Rare Americana from<br>David M. Lesser Books
By 1856, the slavery issue had become an overwhelming force in electoral politics. The new Republican Party nominated John C. Fremont to oppose Democrat James Buchanan, a northerner with southern leanings. Item 150 is a document printed in Cincinnati in 1856, and it appears intended to convince poor Whites that the South and the Democrats have no more regard for them than they have for Blacks. The broadsheet is headed The New ‘Democratic’ Doctrine. Slavery Not to be Confined to the Negro Race, but to be made the Universal Condition of the Laboring Classes of Society. It claims that the “slave oligarchy” of the South is willing to “carry any measure it sees fit, no matter how degrading it may be to the character of the free white men of the north.” The appeal was not successful and Buchanan was elected, but four years later Republican Abraham Lincoln would carry the Midwestern states Fremont lost and the course of history would be changed. $275.
By 1860, even the Democratic Party, the last to stay together as a national party, split by region. Northern Democrats nominated Stephen A. Douglas, Southern Democrats John C. Breckinridge. Item 66 is an Address to the Democracy and the People of the United States, by the National Democratic Executive Committee. The “National” Democrats were really the Southern Democrats, and in this pamphlet they attack Northern Democrat Douglas, saying his only difference from Lincoln is “in making insidious, instead of open, war upon the South.” Southerners resented Douglas’ position that the new territories should decide the slavery issue for themselves, rather than being forced to recognize the “property” rights of slave owners. Between them, the Democrats managed over 47% of the vote to 40% for Lincoln, but the division assured Lincoln the presidency. $275.
Item 69 is both a humorous and acidic satire on the southern Episcopal Church, probably published during the War (1863?). Called Negroes and Religion…Memorial to the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, it satirizes the southern church’s tolerance of slavery. The author sarcastically suggests “Should not provision be made in cases where a parish church needs repair or enlargement, for raising the necessary funds by the sale of a sufficient number of colored communicants?” He goes on to ask if there’s a way “charitable Christians” can “slip a colored person or persons into the alms-dish, without unseemly noise or confusion.” $375.
There’s no humor in Reports of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, five annual issues from 1861-1865 bound together with earlier reports (1855-59) concerning the poor. They speak of the horrible conditions many of the poor faced in New York during this period, but the 1863 volume touches on a Civil War occurrence largely forgotten. Shortly after Gettysburg, draft riots broke out in New York and it took federal troops, already occupied with another matter, to quell them. The 1863 report speaks of “the indescribable horrors, the worse than savage barbarities, the burnings, the plunder, the murders of the four days’ reign of terror.” Item 129. $750.
But a decade after the War was over, resentment would still run deep in the South. An example is Bennett Puryear, writing under the pseudonym “Civis,” in The Public School in its Relations to the Negro. Puryear attacks the public school system, calling it “foreign to free institutions and fatal to liberty.” Generations of schoolchildren would agree with him on that point. However, describing himself as a slaveowner “robbed of his property,” Puryear goes on to describe Negroes as inferior and unsuited for education. Puryear was no great intellect himself. Item 146. $250.
We’ve just described a handful of the 208 items in this catalogue. To learn more or contact David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books, you may visit them on the web at www.lesserbooks, or call them at 203-389-8111.