American History


‘The Sun of rebellion disappears behind the bulwark of Loyalty’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

The newest release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a treatise on the rights to land, labor, and education; a very personal account of one Union soldier’s war; and a detailed account of the fate that befell soldiers from a small town in northern Vermont.


 

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The American Crisis; or, Trial and Triumph of Democracy (1865)

By Warren Chase, author of “Life line of the lone one,” “Fugitive wife,” etc.

The title page of this imprint includes a quote from Shelley:

“War is the statesman’s game, the lawyer’s jest,

The priest’s delight, and the hired assassin’s trade.”

and the unattributed declaration:

We will defend the government that secures to all its children land, labor, and education.

Warren Chase (1813-1891) was an American idealist who associated himself with the philosophy of Charles Fourier of France. Fourier was an advocate of “utopian socialism” which was the impetus for the development of several intentional communities in the U.S., including Brook Farm in Massachusetts, a transcendentalist community founded by Nathaniel Hawthorne and others. In the 1840s, Chase was involved in establishing the Wisconsin Phalanx—an intentional community which subsequently evolved into the village of Ceresco, later annexed by the city of Ripon.

‘The Sun of rebellion disappears behind the bulwark of Loyalty’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

‘The Most Excitable Senator’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The February release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes examples of the use of pseudoscience to justify racism, a defense of Senator Sumner’s anti-slavery “Crime Against Kansas” speech, and more.


 

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Negroes and Negro Slavery (1853)

By John H. Van Evrie, M.D.

John H. Van Evrie (1814-1896) authored several books defending slavery and racism, edited the white supremacist newspaper Weekly Day Book, and owned a publishing company. He was referred to as the first professional racist in American history. Van Evrie often employed the pseudoscience of race biology to defend his beliefs, in this case his opposition to miscegenation.

‘The Most Excitable Senator’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘The Bullet Splintered Tree’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

5350 illus_Page_01 sm inset2.jpgThe current release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a scathing editorial from “The Atlantic Monthly” excoriating President Andrew Johnson and the National Union Party, an illustrated copy of a song celebrating the rescue of a besieged Union force by General William Tecumseh Sherman, and a catalogue of war relics on display in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the 1880s.


 

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The Johnson Party: From The Atlantic Monthly, September 1866 (1866)

‘The Bullet Splintered Tree’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

‘Flying from Persecution’: Highlights from Supplement 1 to Early American Imprints, Series II

Michaux Sugar Maple sm.jpgThe February release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 1 from the American Antiquarian Society includes many scarce printings, including a history of the Colony of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson, a description of the wide array of forest trees in North America, an affidavit attesting to a sea monster sighting, and an advertisement for an act of acrobatics.


 

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Notes on the State of Virginia (1803)

By Thomas Jefferson

The third president of the United States prefaces his work with a letter written in late February 230 years ago:

The following Notes were written in Virginia, in the year 1781, and somewhat corrected and enlarged in the Winter of 1782, in answer to queries proposed to the author, by a foreigner of distinction, then residing among us. The subjects are all treated imperfectly; some scarcely touched on. To apologise for this by developing the circumstances of the time and place of their composition, would be to open wounds which have already bled enough.

Jefferson writes about many topics, including early religious intolerance in the Colony of Virginia:

‘Flying from Persecution’: Highlights from Supplement 1 to Early American Imprints, Series II

Early 19th-Century Children’s Literature: Scarce Works in American Antiquarian Society Collection

EAI II Supp 2 Jan 17 3_Page_7 intro.jpgThe January 2017 release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes more scarce editions of children’s literature similar to those which we highlighted last month. Most of these seem to be somewhat threatening and to treat death and injury as a natural result of childish impetuosity and naughtiness. As a respite from spiteful children, we also offer a rare imprint of beautifully illustrated birds meant to instruct juveniles.


 

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Short Conversations; or, An Easy Road to the Temple of Fame: Which All May Reach Who Endeavour To Be Good (1815)

For social Converse, you will find,

Can please and edify the Mind;

And those who heedful to attend,

May gain much Knowledge from a Friend.

Early 19th-Century Children’s Literature: Scarce Works in American Antiquarian Society Collection

Histories of Union Regiments: Amateur Historians and the American Civil War

CW Jan 3a inset.jpgThe current release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a number of histories of Union regiments each written many years after the end of the war by amateur historians. In each instance, the author describes the challenging task in his preface and admits to his perceived shortcomings. We can see that these various accounts deviate from any established norm. And yet, each is similar in its description of the general experience of so many young men, even boys, whose lives were upended by the war and, in many instances, forever changed.


 

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History of the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers: From its Organization to Appomattox; to which is Added Experiences of Prison life and Sketches of Individual Members (1898)

By Thos. (Thomas) D. Marbaker. Sergeant Co. E.

Thomas D. Marbaker describes his process of determining how best to write the history of the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers:

Histories of Union Regiments: Amateur Historians and the American Civil War

‘Lifeless in the snow’: The Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888

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On January 12, 1888, an unexpected blizzard rushed across the American Northwest. The storm arrived on a relatively warm day and many people were unprepared when the temperature plunged that afternoon. Under the headline, “Midnight at Noon,” the Boston Daily Advertiser reported:

At Fargo…mercury 47’ below zero and a hurricane blowing….At Neche, Dak. the thermometer is 58’ below zero.

Reports in Early American Newspapers include many accounts of adults and children caught in the lethal blizzard. Although relatively few of its victims were schoolchildren, the historic event is now commonly referred to as the Schoolhouse or Schoolchildren’s Blizzard. The plight of schoolchildren was an immediate focus of the reporting. On Jan. 13, the Duluth Daily News wrote:

“The storm came up suddenly and it is feared that many school children who were out on the prairie are lost. Whistles were kept blowing all day as signals to the unfortunates.”

On the same day, the Boston Daily Journal added more details:

‘Lifeless in the snow’: The Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888

Disastrous Events, Sorrowful Sam and a Wayward Fish: Early 19th-Century Tales for Children

December’s release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes several instructive stories designed to set children on a worthy path in life. Some are prose while others are poetry, and some are illustrated. All are rare.


 

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The Disastrous Events which Attended Joe Dobson: Illustrated with Sixteen Elegant Engravings (1817)

This imprint was published in Philadelphia in 1817 and sold for twenty-five cents. The National Library of Australia provides the only citation on-line other than the American Antiquarian Society. It states that it was “First published in London with title, Cobler [sic], stick to your last, or, The adventures of Joe Dobson / by B.A.T.” The AAS citation also refers to the earlier London publication noting that it appeared in 1809. The complete manuscript appears to be unique to this collection.

Each page of text is illustrated with an engraving, each of which is clearly reproduced. It begins:

Joe Dobson was an Englishman

     In Days of Robin Hood

A Country Farmer, eke was he

     In forest of Sherwood

 

Joe Dobson said unto his Dame,

     I vow that I could do,

More household work in any day,

Disastrous Events, Sorrowful Sam and a Wayward Fish: Early 19th-Century Tales for Children

‘A new species of Monster’: Newly Digitized Items in Early American Imprints, Series II

GerryMonster 4.jpgThe December release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 1 from the American Antiquarian Society includes rare broadsides on health, politics, and entertainment. This release, which also contains a scarce atlas mapping the West Indies, is the final major release of this collection.


 

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Indian Medicines: Recommendations and Directions (1805)

By Charity Shaw

Early nineteenth-century America saw the commercialization of many aspects of American Indian culture, including the use of therapeutic herbs and other approaches to popular medicine. Charity Shaw offers an array of remedies for a wider range of maladies, writing:

Indian Medicines, composed of roots and herbs only, adapted to almost every complaint, so rapid in their progress, that one week will decide their power and efficacy. Indisputable testimonies can be produced, of their curing numbers of the Dysentery (in three days,) Canker, Tooth Ache, Rheumatism, contracted Sinews, callous Swellings, Gravel, Tape-Worm and all others in old and young, Scrofulous Humours, Cancers, Itch, Hooping Cough, Consumptive and Liver Complaints, Leprosy, Sciatica, Dropsy and Fevers, since May last.

One such testimonial is offered by Freelove Boyden:

‘A new species of Monster’: Newly Digitized Items in Early American Imprints, Series II

‘A Weapon of the Deadliest Kind’: Selections from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The December release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a patently racist collection “of laughable caricatures on the march of manners amongst the blacks,” a fictional memoir of questionable morality, and a proposed solution to “a menace to American civilization” by a white supremacist.


 

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Tregear's Black Jokes (1834)

London-based publisher Gabriel Shear Tregear (1802-1841) managed his Humorous and Sporting Print Shop from the late 1820s to his death. His shop was renowned, and later infamous, for the multitude of caricatures and prints filling its windows. He was forced to reduce the number of displayed items after a child was struck accidently by a passing wagon due to the size of the gathered crowd near the shop. This hard-to-find collection of drawings by little-known artist W. Summers illustrates the societal racism of the period. It also includes the scarce plates numbered 1, 2, 5, 13, 14, 17, and 20.

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The Memoirs of Dolly Morton (1904)

By Hugues Rebell

‘A Weapon of the Deadliest Kind’: Selections from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

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