Works from Both Americas and More from Kaaterskill Books
- by Michael Stillman
Works from Both Americas and More from Kaaterskill Books
Kaaterskill Books prepared a List for the 46th California International Antiquarian Book Fair. We were a bit late receiving this, but these books were very old already. While no specialty is listed, these are overwhelmingly antiquarian, nonfiction, and pertain to the Americas. We say “Americas” because despite the bookseller coming from rural upstate New York, there is much in here from Latin America. Kaaterskill is actually much closer to French America, Quebec that is, and there are a few works here in French, but Spanish is the run away runner-up behind English. Here, now, are a few works that Kaaterskill is offering.
We start from what might be called a mixing of church and state that would not have been well received in America, though ultimately it had little effect on either. John Wesley is by far best known as the founder of Methodism, but along the way, he wrote on a wide range of topics. In 1775, he published a pamphlet about the brewing revolution in America, Calm Address to our American Colonies. It did not calm the Americans. If anything, it would have inflamed them, though it is unlikely too many of the colonists saw it. Reputedly, American Methodists disposed of as many copies that made it across the seas as they could, though some question whether this happened. It certainly was well distributed in England as the government heartily approved of Wesley's position. Essentially, he argued that taxation without representation was all right. Colonists, he said, ceded their liberties and property rights to the English government, so they had no right to object to the actions of the Crown. Item 6. Priced at $750.
Cuba isn't noted for earthquakes, but on rare occasions they can occur, once in awhile quite serious. In 1852, such a quake struck the city of Santiago. The tremors could be felt as far away as Jamaica and Hispaniola. It was estimated to be a 7.2 on the magnitude scale. It wreaked widespread destruction on buildings throughout the city. It was reported at the time that people moved to tents outside of town and onto ships for awhile for fear of further destruction. Surprisingly, only two people died as a result. Another 200 were injured. The relatively poor construction of buildings in the city explains the level of destruction. M. Ravael (Alvarez) reported on the August earthquake at the time in a pamphlet, Sucinta Descripcion en Verso de los dos Terremotos que Sufrio la Ciudad de Santiago de Cuba en los dias 20 y 21 de Agosto de 1852. Cuba would suffer another serious earthquake in November of that year. Item 146. $500.
As the 1840s gave way to the 1850s, thoughts of how to travel to the west coast via wagons on the Oregon Trail gave way to the concept of building a Pacific railroad. It would be an enormous undertaking, but the government would begin the process of surveying potential routes. Private surveys would also be made, and E.F. Beale, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California, and Gwinn Harris Heap would begin to lay out a potential route, a bit farther south than others considered. It was to go through southern Colorado and New Mexico, through Utah, Nevada, and on through Death Valley. Heap published their findings in 1853 in Central Route to the Pacific, from the Valley of the Mississippi to California. The book is noted for providing new information about the region, in particular on the arduous crossing of the Mojave Desert. Item 82. $900.
Violence has plagued Mexico at many times in its history, much as it does today, the victims often being ordinary people. In the 1930s, the government decreed that schools should not teach religion, and should promote certain government policies like land reform. This did not sit well with more conservative and religious elements. Their rebellion against such decrees became in part directed against rural school teachers who taught these lessons. It is estimated that 200-300 were murdered in the late 1930s, often by lynching and other brutal methods designed to instill a lesson of fear to other teachers. Item 103 is En nombre de Cristo, seven lithographs created by artist Leopoldo Méndez published in 1939. Méndez came from the opposite end of the political spectrum from the “Cristeros” who many held accountable for the atrocities. The lithographs honored the murdered teachers in graphic form. $1,250.
Item 168 is a two-part (1845 and 1847) abolitionist call from the unorthodox political philosopher Lysander Spooner. Spooner was an anarchist, individualist, businessman, and constitution interpreter of very unusual views. Spooner believed, contrary to most abolitionists who believed the U.S. Constitution allowed for slavery, that a careful review of its provisions would show it outlawed the practice. He conceded this was not the intention of its framers, but argued that intention did not matter where the text was clear (as it was in his mind). He put his views to paper in his two-part The Unconstitutionality of Slavery. His intellect was strong, and Spooner did convince some abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass, of his constitutional interpretation. Fitting in with his unorthodoxy, Spooner would later oppose the Civil War on the same grounds, saying the individual rights that compelled freedom for slaves also provided for the South to be free from the Union if it so chose. Lysander Spooner is also known for another constitutional argument. He claimed that the Constitution did not provide the U.S. government the exclusive right to deliver the mail, so he set up a competing business to the post office. The government shut it down. $750.