Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2012 Issue

Jefferson Davis from the George S. MacManus Company

Macmanus409

Jefferson Davis was worth $100,00 in gold in 1865.

The most important movie in theaters today is an account of President Lincoln's final days of the Civil War. Such happens when you are on the winning side. The president of the losers, Jefferson Davis, may not receive such approbation, but he is recognized in the latest catalogue of the George S. MacManus CompanyAn Important Collection of Jefferson Davis Material. Some see him as a patriot, others as a traitor, but whatever one's view, he played a significant role in American history, as leader of the nation's most notable lost cause.

In his earlier years, Jefferson Davis attended West Point, served in the military, went back home to Mississippi to operate a plantation, and married the daughter of future President Zachary Taylor. She died 3 months later, and Davis did not remarry for another 10 years. Davis began to draw national attention for his performance during the Mexican War. The result was he was appointed to fill out a senate term in 1847, and was elected to the office in 1848. He resigned in 1851 to run for Governor of Mississippi, but lost a close election. He ran on a states rights platform against the last unionist to win in the state. He was soon back in government service, appointed Secretary of War by President Franklin Pierce. With the end of the Pierce administration, Davis again ran for the senate from Mississippi and won. He was still serving as a senator when secession came.

While a firm believer in states' constitutional right to secede from the union, both before and after the war, he was never one to favor actually seceding. When Mississippi officials gathered in 1861 to respond to South Carolina's secession, Davis opposed joining in. However, once the state seceded, Davis handed in his resignation to the U.S. Senate and offered his services to Mississippi. However, due to his stature and service as U.S. Secretary of War, he was called on to serve as the provisional President of the Confederate States (and President a year later).

Davis' tenure as the only President of the Confederacy is controversial. While General Robert E. Lee would become a great hero in the South for his field command, Davis' overall management of the war, as well as diplomatic, financial, and other aspects of leadership, is generally considered to have been less than outstanding. Lee would exit the war a hero, Davis not so much so to southerners. However, Lee died a few years later, while Davis lived until 1889, in effect regaining the role as symbol of the South for unreconstructed confederates. He would continue for the rest of his life to support confederate veterans, and argue the justness of their cause and for the constitutional right to secede, though, again, opposing actually taking such action.

Davis was imprisoned after the war and was set for trial on charges of treason. However, those charges were later dropped, and after two years in prison, and with bail supplied by, among others, noted abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Gerrit Smith, he was freed. He would travel to Canada and England, but returned to the U.S. for the remainder of his life. After his death, his widow, Varina Davis, would continue loyally to promote his legacy until her death in 1906. Now, it is time to take a look at a few items in this catalogue.

Many biographies were written about Davis after the war, but here is the first one, written early in his public career. Attributed to “A Citizen of Mississippi,” believed to be Jackson lawyer Collin Tarpley, it is titled, A Sketch of the Life of Jeff: Davis, the Democratic Candidate for Governor. It was published for his unsuccessful 1851 campaign. The pamphlet describes Davis as holding unswerving loyalty to Mississippi (states rights) as well as being imbued with selflessness, integrity, honor and devotion to his state. Item 204. Priced at $7,500.

Item 132 is one of Davis' earlier important speeches, Speech of Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, on the Subject of Slavery in the Territories. It was given in the Senate in February, 1850, and opposed the Compromise of 1850, which limited the extension of slavery to new territories. Davis hits the usual notes about interference with southern affairs and rights, though adds a novel argument in favor of allowing slavery to extend to the territories. He points out that it doesn't increase the number of slaves, and claims that when slaves are more spread out, rather than concentrated in large numbers on plantations, their care is better. “It is only when the slaves are assembled in large numbers, on plantations, and are removed from the interested, the kind, the affectionate care of the master, that it ever can partake of that cruelty which is made the great charge against it by those who know nothing of it...” claims Davis. $125.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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