AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2010 Issue

18th and 19th Century Rare Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lesser114

Rare Americana No. 114 from David Lesser.


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has released catalogue number 114 of Rare Americana. It is both of those, and filled with interesting material. Then as now, Americans were not shy about controversy, or getting into political, theological, or any other type of debate with each other. We were always a contentious lot, but back then, we had to put it in print, rather than expressing it in the ephemeral world of radio waves, online blogs, and tweets. This affords us the opportunity to look back at our past, and with the advantage of knowing how the battles of yesterday were won, lost, or resolved. Now, here are a few of these 18th and 19th century American writings.

Item 137 is a significant item of Texas history, with hints of the nobility, and the darker side, of that state's revolution. It is Texas. Address of the Honorable Wm. H. Wharton, Delivered in New York...Stephen F. Austin, Delivered in Louisville...1836. After the success of the revolution conducted primarily by settlers from America, the new republic needed assistance. The natural source, where sympathy could be expected, was America. Austin, the founder of the original Anglo settlement in Texas, and Wharton, another official of the Republic of Texas, were sent to America to gather loans, arms, and sympathy for Texas' eventual acceptance as a new state. This work includes the first appearance in a book of Texas' Declaration of Independence. In looking for a sympathetic ear, Austin states that Texas' cause is "the same holy cause for which our forefathers fought and bled - the same that has an advocate in the bosom of every freeman." However, Austin also hints at the darker side of Texas independence, saying that its settlers would help protect America from "wild fanatics" who might use Texas as a means of attacking slavery. Slavery was outlawed (a law frequently ignored in Texas) while it was part of Mexico, but most American settlers came from the South, often with their slaves. Slavery became legal after Texas gained its independence from Mexico, and its acceptance into the Union helped sow the growing divide between North and South in the 1840s that erupted into civil war in 1861. Priced at $5,000.

While slavery was gaining a foothold in Texas in the 1830s, there was some surprising opposition rising in, of all places, Virginia. Perhaps that should not be so surprising, as many of the nation's founding fathers came from Virginia, and they accepted slavery as a necessary evil, but one, hopefully, to gradually be eliminated. After Nat Turner's rebellion in 1831, several Virginia notables realized that the time had come to implement gradual abolition. Most notable was the proposal of Jefferson's grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph in 1832 to make all children born of slaves after July 4, 1840, free. Item 71 is another 1832 piece, Speech of James M'Dowell Jr. in the House of Delegates of Virginia, on the Slave Question...Second Edition. Published by Gentlemen who are Favorable to the Views Advocated by Mr. M'D. McDowell, a son-in-law of Missouri's Thomas Hart Benton, and a future Virginia Governor, was noted as a great orator, and was quite blunt in his speech, noting that Virginia was "wasting away under the...fatal institution that she cherishes and cherishes, too, as a mother who will hazard her own life rather than part even with the monstrous offspring that afflicts her." $600.

AE Monthly


Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions