AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2004 Issue

Interesting and Unusual Americana from<br>David M. Lesser Antiquarian Books

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Gerrit Smith would be a candidate for president in the next election, 1848. He would represent the Liberty Party, a strongly abolitionist group which had made a decent showing (2+% of the votes) in the 1844 election. However, in 1848, another group of more established political forces had formed the anti-slavery Free Soil Party with former President Martin Van Buren as its standard bearer. The result was that Smith mustered less than one-tenth of one percent of the vote, though he did manage a plurality in Madison County, New York. In 1850, Smith published his Substance of the Speech Made by Gerrit Smith in the Capitol of the State of New York… Citing a British case, he argues that slavery was not legal in the Colonies at the time the Constitution was adopted, so therefore there was no slavery to be legalized by that document. “Slavery is too iniquitous and foul and monstrous a thing to be, by any possibility, embodied and sheltered in the forms of law,” writes Smith. It was an interesting argument to extract the country from the mess created by slavery, but it had little impact, and so other means would be required to resolve the issue. Item 177. $175.

So who won the election of 1848? Zachary Taylor, of course. Item 190 is a campaign piece called A Sketch of the Life and Public Services of General Zachary Taylor, the People’s Candidate for the Presidency. So if Taylor was the “people’s” candidate, what were his opponents? The cows’ candidate? The horses’ candidate? Maybe the buffalo’s candidate as they probably still outnumbered people in America in 1848. $250.

I don’t know whether they still stock them, but you might want to send away for a catalogue for Throop’s Fan-Blast Grain Scourer Smut and Separating Machine. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time the Attorney General investigated the sale of these “smut machines.” Have we no decency? Item 194. $150.

Samuel Cooper’s A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency… from 1759 warns of the mixed feelings and conflicts that would begin running through the Colonies a decade later. In it he celebrates the British victory over the French in Quebec, and yet he also cautions for limited government on the part of that colonial power and respect for the rights of its subjects. Item 56. $850. By 1768, that call for noninterference would become much stronger with the Letters From a Farmer in Pennsylvania… by John Dickinson. This was one of the earliest calls for something akin to sovereignty for the colonies and it generated much interest and thought among the Colonists. Item 64. $4,000. But there was no need for the British to worry. As John Dalrymple explained in his 1775 The Address of the People of Great-Britain to the Inhabitants of America, should they rebel, “your destruction is inevitable.” Item 59. $875.

The unnamed author of Popular Delusions in Relation to War… was a better prophet than Mr. Dalrymple. In this January 1861 piece he urges the North to seek compromise with the South, cautioning that defeating the South “will require something more than a few skirmishes before breakfast.” Indeed. Item 47. $275.

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