American History


‘The Grievances of the Fair Secesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an address on slavery by one of America’s Founding Fathers, a biography of William Pitt which contains a description of the Middle Passage, and a history of the 19th Colored Infantry Regiment.


 

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An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements on the Slavery of the Negroes in America (1773)

By Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) signed the Declaration of Independence, attended the Continental Congress, supported the American Revolution, and opposed slavery. He also founded Dickinson College, served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and was a leader of the American Enlightenment.

Rush viewed Africans as equals to Europeans and argues here that any differences are either products of slavery or only skin deep. He writes:

…we are to distinguish between an African in his own country, and an African in a state of slavery in America. Slavery is so foreign to the human mind, that the moral faculties, as well as those of the understanding are debased, and rendered torpid by it. All the vices which are charged upon the Negroes in the southern colonies and the West-Indies, such as Idleness, Treachery, Theft, and the like, are the genuine offspring of slavery, and serve as an argument to prove that they were not intended for it.

‘The Grievances of the Fair Secesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“He did not die in the war, but he died of it.”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

Among the newly released works in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society are memorials to two quite different men who fought for the Union. Also included is the account of an anti-slavery journalist who acted as the head of the American consulate in Bristol, England, throughout the Civil War.


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A Memorial of Lieut. John W. Grout, of the 15th Massachusetts Volunteers, Killed at Ball's Bluff, October 21, 1861 (1861)

By the Rev. E. Cutler

Reverend Cutler begins his memorial by describing the young Lieutenant Grout:

The subject of this sketch won a claim to this memorial, not only as being one of the first commissioned officers that has fallen in this campaign from the state of Massachusetts, but also as leaving a fame independent of fiction, of exaggeration, and of the partiality of friends.

He was born in the summer of 1843, and had barely attained the age at which a legal claim could be made upon his service, when he fell a voluntary sacrifice on the altar of his country.

“He did not die in the war, but he died of it.”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

Readex Announces Major New Digital Collections for Fall 2017

Readex is pleased to announce five new digital collections for students and scholars in American studies, history, literature, politics, popular culture and many related areas.


Nineteenth-Century American Drama: Popular Culture and Entertainment, 1820-1900

Drama2.jpgIn the nineteenth century drama became the most popular form of entertainment in America while taking on myriad forms: historical plays, melodramas, political satires, black minstrel shows, comic operas, musical extravaganzas, parlor entertainments, adaptations of novels and more. All of these—more than 4,700 works in total—can be found in Nineteenth-Century American Drama: Popular Culture and Entertainment. This unique and comprehensive collection sheds new light on an enormous range of heavily studied topics, including daily life in the United States; politics, both local and national; culture in all of its forms; and the shifting and evolving tastes of Americans from across the country. Learn more.


African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883

Readex Announces Major New Digital Collections for Fall 2017

‘The President Has Been Shot’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The July release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes several regimental histories and other recollections of the war. Highlighted here are reminiscences of cavalrymen from Ohio and New York, and a collection of engravings depicting various battles from American history.


The Battles of America by Sea and Land (1875)

By Robert Tomes

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Robert Tomes (1817-1882) was a physician, diplomat and writer. He practiced medicine briefly in New York before working as a surgeon for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and making several voyages between San Francisco and Panama. Tomes was appointed U.S. consul at Rheims, France, in 1865 and served until 1867. His The Great Civil War a History of the Late Rebellion can also be found in The American Civil War Collection. In this assemblage of images, published to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the American Revolution, Tomes includes engravings of battles and commanders from many wars including the Civil War.

The Buffalo, NY, Superintendent of Education offered the following endorsement:

Having examined the engravings of your work entitled “BATTLES OF AMERICA,” and carefully read some of the advance numbers, I cheerfully recommend it to the reading public. The engravings are of fine execution and are new in design, affording a decided relief from most other works.

‘The President Has Been Shot’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Lafcadio Hearn: Tracking the Author, Journalist and 19th-Century World Traveler through Historical Newspapers

Lafcadio_hearn.jpgAn American author and literary figure in the last quarter of the 19th century, Lafcadio Hearn was known for his fiction and his reportage from the Caribbean and Japan. His own life, however, was as fascinating as fiction itself, and his biography reads like a Charles Dickens novel that morphs into a Hemingway memoir.

Born to a Greek mother and an Irish father, Hearn was brought up in Greece, Ireland, England and France. After moving to Dublin when he was five, his parents divorced. His mother remarried and returned to Greece, while his soldier father was sent to India with his new wife. Hearn was left in Ireland with his aunt, Sarah Brenane, who sent him to a Catholic school in France on the advice of her financial advisor, Henry Molyneux.

495px-Lafcadio_Hearn.jpgFrom there, Hearn went to yet another school in England, but was forced to leave when Molyneux suffers some financial setbacks. His aunt died and Molyneux became her heir. When Hearn turned nineteen, Molyneux gave him a ticket to New York City. From there, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where a relative of Molyneux’s was supposed to help him, but didn’t. Hearn lived in abject poverty. But thanks to his multinational upbringing, he was literate and knew several languages.

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Lafcadio Hearn: Tracking the Author, Journalist and 19th-Century World Traveler through Historical Newspapers

‘The Demagogue and His Recital of Imaginary Wrongs’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The June release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes unique accounts of the war by two Union surgeons and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.  


 

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Three Years in the Sixth Corps (1879)

By George Thomas Stevens

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George Thomas Stevens (1832-1921) served as a surgeon in the 77th Regiment of New York Volunteers. He draws on his own contemporaneous notes, official reports, and letters from officers to write “a concise narrative of events in the Army of the Potomac from 1861 to the close of the rebellion, April, 1865.”

Stevens describes his regiment’s march to Gettysburg, writing:

‘The Demagogue and His Recital of Imaginary Wrongs’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a clergyman’s critique of Thomas Jefferson’s candidacy for the presidency, a Quaker’s message to slave-owners, and an abolitionist’s speech from the floor of the House of Representatives.


 

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Serious Considerations on the Election of a President (1800)

By William Linn

Reverend William Linn (1752-1808) served as a chaplain in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and was the first Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. Linn opposed Thomas Jefferson’s presidential run for religious reasons.

…my objection to his being promoted to the Presidency is founded singly upon his disbelief of the Holy Scriptures; or, in other words, his rejection of the Christian Religion and open profession of Deism.

Linn turns to Jefferson’s writings to prove he is not a Christian. Linn quotes Jefferson casting doubt on a global flood and making reference to an age of the earth greater than 6000 years. He then quotes Jefferson’s musings on various races of people and how they compared:

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

There’s general agreement that as recently as 11,000 years ago the Asian and North American continents were connected by a land bridge over which hominids and other animals crossed. Today, the Bering Strait is only about 50 miles wide at its narrowest point, and less than 200 feet deep.

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Two small islands are situated midway between the continental land masses. Big Diomede Island belongs to Russia; Little Diomede Island belongs to the United States. The islands are separated by approximately two miles—and the International Date Line.

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For reference, the English Channel, between the United Kingdom and France, is about 20 miles wide and similar in depth to the Bering Strait. An undersea tunnel was proposed there during the 19th century, and has since been completed. The Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, was built in 1869. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914. In keeping with these ambitious projects, some structure across or beneath the Bering Strait has long been suggested as both practical and possible.

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

‘This Execrable Commerce….This Assemblage of Horrors’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The May release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several editions of Henry Home, Lord Kames’ Sketches of the History of Man, a fictional account of the American South, and an extensive collection of Thomas Jefferson’s writings.


 

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Sketches of the History of Man (1775)

By Henry Home, Lord Kames

Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782) was a Scottish judge, philosopher, and writer. A central figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, he boasts David Hume, Adam Smith, and James Boswell as protegees. Introducing this multi-volume work, Home writes:

Whether there be different races of men, or whether all men be of one race, without any difference but what proceeds from climate or other accident, is a profound question of natural history, which remains still undetermined after all that has been said upon it.

In attempting an answer Home argues against the then speculative idea of evolutionary change over time and Carl Linnaeus’s earlier recognition of the hierarchical nature of species. Home shares with Linnaeus, however, the notion species are fixed according to Providence. Attempting to support his assertion, Home conflates species, breed, and kind before turning to special pleading.

‘This Execrable Commerce….This Assemblage of Horrors’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘Sublime and Important Subjects’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

The April release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes an extremely rare speller “for the improvement of youth,” an official record of the deaths and their causes in New York City in the early years of the 19th century, and an instruction book on reading for young children.


 

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A Spelling Exercise, for the Improvement of Youth (1813)

Selected by Charles Keyser, teacher at the German-Hall Seminary

In his preface, Keyser describes the problem that his 19 years of teaching have revealed to him. Of his students, he writes:

…I have found, by experience, that too many are deficient in the rudiments of a good English education, particularly in SPELLING. Very many are unable, at the first trial, either to spell or define words of one, two, or three syllables, which are sounded alike, but differently spelled, as: ware, merchandize; wear, to use; were, plural of was; and where, in that place: wherefore, to facilitate the scholar’s improvement in spelling, and for my own pleasure in teaching, I have collected nearly all the words of this class and arranged them alphabetically in lessons, containing fourteen or fifteen words each.

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‘Sublime and Important Subjects’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

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