Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2012 Issue

Signed American Documents from the Raab Collection

Raab72

Catalog 72 from the Raab Collection.

The Raab Collection recently issued their Catalog 72. Raab specializes in signed, historic material. This collection is entirely American in origin, and the primarily manuscript and typescript items mostly come from personalities of political note. That includes many U.S. presidents, but also others of significant importance. As always, many documents come from the 18th and 19th centuries, but the 20th is well represented too. The time frame is covered by the range of presidents, from George Washington, president #1, to Jimmy Carter, #39. The great – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, are included, as are the not as notable – Hayes, Harding, Cleveland, Hoover, Buchanan, and Benjamin Harrison. Here are some of these 51 documents from important Americans of the past.

We will start with one of those non-presidential Americans, but a man whose name stirs greater passion than most of the men who made it to the highest office in the land. It is a letter from Toledo, Ohio, dated June 22, 1857, from John Brown to his wife. Brown had recently come back from a speaking and fund raising visit to Wisconsin that had proven quite successful. Brown was on his way to Akron to pick up his son, Owen, and from there would travel to Tabor, Iowa. Tabor was a launching pad for many anti-slavery settlers heading to Kansas, a place where fellow abolitionists offered protection from the pro-slavery “border ruffians” of Kansas. Brown writes that he hears that free state settlers in Kansas are “anxious for my return,” and adds, somewhat ominously about himself, “& have some hope of being spared to meet you all again.” Brown would survive his confrontations in Kansas, but not his operation at Harpers Ferry, where he was captured and executed. Item 3. $24,500.

While John Brown was fighting slavery outside of the system, Charles Sumner was fighting from within. Sumner was an abolition senator from Massachusetts, and one of his causes was repeal of the hated Fugitive Slave Law. After a fiery speech in the Senate, Sumner was invited to speak in New York, where on May 9, 1855, he gave “an inspirational three hour address.” It must have been inspirational to keep the audience listening that long. On May 19, Sumner wrote down the most notable line from that speech and signed it on a sheet of paper. That line reads, “Ours is a noble cause; nobler than that of our Fathers, inasmuch as it is more exalted to struggle for the Freedom of others than for our own.” Item 12. $1,200.

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