Western and Other Americana from Arthur Clark
The 928th catalogue from Arthur H. Clark.
By Michael Stillman
The Arthur H. Clark Company has issued the 928th catalogue in its long-running series on the American West. Their catalogues do extend to many other books of Americana, and a little totally outside of the field, although the West remains their focus. Here are a few samples from their latest offering.
Have you ever wondered what some of America's earlier celebrities, those not quite as memorable as Washington and Lincoln, looked like? Here is your chance to find out. The book is Dictionary of American Portraits: 4045 of Important Americans from Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century. Compiled by Hayware and Blanche Cirker and the staff of Dover Publications in 1967, this book includes pictures of famous Americans from all walks of life up to the early days of the 20th century. Item 16. Priced at $125.
The great success by America carving away land from Mexico during the 1840s led several private persons to believe they could do the same. One of the last of these was the filibustering expedition of Colonel Henry Crabb, an unsuccessful office seeker in California who sought personal success and power on the other side of the border, in the Mexican state of Sonora. Perhaps he felt his wife being the member of an important local clan would help. He led a group of not quite 100 Americans across the border and almost 100 miles into Mexican territory. For a while, they seemed to have the upper hand, and perhaps Crabb expected the locals would eventually join him. However, it turned out that the Mexicans had had quite enough of Americans taking over their land, and once reinforcements arrived, Crabb and his men were overwhelmed. Angry Mexicans executed all of them, saving the worst indignities for Crabb. He was marched to the town square where he was executed by firing squad, followed by the removal of his head. The Mexicans had sent their neighbors to the north a message. Item 363 is an official publication from 1858, Message from the President of the United States, communicating Official information and correspondence in relation to the execution of Colonel Crabb and his associates. $165.
Here are a couple of items tying together Kansas and Oregon with a most interesting association. The first is Governor Geary's Administration in Kansas, with a complete history of the territory until July 1857 ... by John Gihon and published in that year. Geary, a native Pennsylvanian, was an oft-injured hero of the Mexican War who became San Francisco's first mayor. He returned east because of his wife's failing health, but after her death, he was appointed Governor of Kansas in 1856. He arrived just in time to be stuck with the horrors of bleeding Kansas, where pro and anti-slavery forces battled for control of the territory. Geary left Kansas within a year, a strong abolitionist as a result of his experiences there. He would go on to serve the Union during the Civil War, and later six years as Governor of Pennsylvania. He died shortly after leaving office in 1873. Item 386 is a copy of Gihon's book that belonged to Geary's brother, Edward. It is signed three times by Edward, once by Geary's son John, Jr., and also by a later Geary descendant. $110.
Western and Other Americana from Arthur Clark
Louis Weichmann testified against the conspirators in the Lincoln assassination trials.
Here is the second Geary item. Edward, the brother of Governor Geary, and the man who signed the preceding volume thrice, was Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon. Item 436 contains two items, Depredations and Massacre by the Snake River Indians, a publication by the House of Representatives, and the Memorial of Edward R. Geary D.D. late of Eugene City, Oregon, published in 1887. Edward Geary was not only a man of the government, but a man of the cloth. Purchase these two publications and you have the start of a collection. $125.
Here is a work as unusual as its title is long: An Humble Address and Earnest Appeal to Those Respectable Personages in Great-Britain and Ireland, Who, by Their Great and Permanent Interest in Landed Property, Their Liberal Education, Elevated Rank, and Enlarged Views, Are the Ablest to Judge, and the Fittest to Decide, Whether a Connection with, or a Separation from the Continental Colonies of America, Be Most for the National Advantage, and the Lasting Benefit for These Kingdoms. This is a 1775 second edition of a work by Josiah Tucker, who urged his British compatriots to allow the Americans to separate themselves from the motherland. However, this position was not based on any respect for the colonists or issues of freedom and independence. Tucker believed the separation would be no loss to the British, but that the Americans would soon terribly miss the privileges of being British subjects. He went on to say that the British should not allow the independent Americans to return to the fold until they exhibited sufficient humility and repentance. Things didn't quite turn out as Tucker expected. Item 55. $275.
You would not expect a first edition of the story of the Lincoln assassination trials by a participant to come cheaply, but here is one for just $42. Perhaps that is because it was not published until 1975. Nevertheless, it is essential to a Lincoln assassination collection. The author is Louis Weichmann, and the title is, A True History of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the Conspiracy of 1865. Weichmann was a friend of John Surratt, who participated in an earlier unsuccessful attempt to kidnap Lincoln, but was found not guilty in the assassination conspiracy. This led Weichmann to board at the home of John's mother, Mary Surratt. It was at this boarding house that the conspirators in the assassination, including John Wilkes Booth, plotted their act. Weichmann was himself under suspicion, a suspicion that remained with him the rest of his life despite repeated denials. He may have saved himself by providing testimony against the others at their trials. His testimony was crucial in convicting Mary Surratt, who became the first woman executed for a crime by the federal government, as well as being harmful to the defense of Dr. Samuel (his name is "Mudd") Mudd. Item 70 is this 1975 book, taken from the unpublished manuscript Weichmann left his family after he died in 1902. $42.
We did say Clark has a few items totally outside of the field of Americana, so here's a sample: From Lenin to Malenkov: The History of World Communism. Of course, Communism was on the minds, and in the fears, of most Americans when Hugh Seton-Watson had his book published in 1953. This was shortly after the death of Stalin, and at the height of the Red Scare and McCarthy eras. The book was certainly topical at the time. Item 34. $19.
The Arthur H. Clark Company may be found at www.ahclark.com, phone number 800-842-9286.