Slavery & Abolition<br>From William Reese
And who would expect P.T. Barnum to be mixed up with the issue of slavery? It turns out that Barnum, at the age of 22, was editing an abolitionist newspaper in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail for libel. On his release, a crowd of 1,500 rallied to his support. Even then he could draw a crowd. Item 70 is by Theophilus Fisk, who spoke on that occasion, and it is entitled The Nation’s Bulwark an Oration, on the Freedom of the Press…on the Liberation of P.T. Barnum… $375.
Phillis Wheatley was a most remarkable woman. Captured into slavery at the age of 7, she was sold to Bostonian John Wheatley to assist his wife, as the youth was too young to be of use to West Indies or Southern slaveholders. John Wheatley chose to educate her and quickly discovered the young woman was a brilliant person. Phillis Wheatley proved to be both a great scholar and a poet, publishing one (and only one) book of poetry in her brief (29-year) life. Despite the obstacles that forced the first edition of her poetry to be sent to London for printing, her work became very popular in America. Items 215 and 216 are editions of her Poems on Various Subjects, while 217 is a biography of her including her poems.
Slavery is the dark underbelly of Texas independence. While Americans like to recall the bravery and the aspirations for freedom of the Texans, it is less pleasant to remember that independence from Mexico also brought the reinstitution of this horrific practice, banned in Mexico, to Texas. Item 128 is an 1836 pamphlet by Benjamin Lundy entitled The Origin and True Causes of the Texas Insurrection, Commenced in the Year 1835. Lundy attributes the insurrection to a slaveholder conspiracy. $1,000. Item 186 is a British imprint by John Scoble called Texas: Its Claims to be Recognised as an Independent Power, by Great Britain… Scoble argues against recognition because immigrants may be forced to bear arms against Mexico to defend the practice of slavery. $5,000.