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Notes on the Origin and Necessity of Slavery

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“THE DIVISION OF MANKIND”: FIRST EDITION OF BROWN’S NOTES ON THE ORIGIN AND NECESSITY OF SLAVERY, CHARLESTON, 1826, A FOUNDATIONAL WORK FOR FITZHUGH

(SLAVERY) BROWN, Edward. Notes on the Origin and Necessity of Slavery. Charleston: Printed by A.E. Miller, 1826. Slim octavo, original self-wrappers, stitched as issued; pp. 48.

First edition of one of the first and most influential early 19th-century proslavery arguments, a foundation for the works of Fitzhugh and others in extensively citing “Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Malthusian principle of population and British proslavery writings,” scarce in original wrappers.

“In an attempt to recover from the determined attack of a resurgent anti-slavery crusade in the second decade of the 19th century, the pro-slavery groups in the South rallied their forces to defend their ‘peculiar institution.’ The counter-offensive was launched as early as 1826 when Edward Brown released his Notes on the Origin and Necessity of Slavery,” prompting proslavery works by Fitzhugh and others in contending “that slavery was a positive good” (Logan, Phylon:II, 1950). Brown’s Notes was “written wholly from the great texts on political economy. Relying almost entirely on Smith’s Wealth of Nations [1776], Malthusian principles of population and British proslavery writings, Brown argued that some form of enslavement, whether legal or economic, was as necessary to the creation and perpetuation of civilization as respect for law and order. Civilization in the New World or anywhere else, he contended, would have been impossible without slavery or ‘the division of mankind into grades.’ Gradation gave rise to ‘mutual dependence,’ the ‘very soul of civilization.’ Brown insisted that it was ‘the mutual dependence of one part of society on the other’ that produced social ‘order and the courtesies of life” (Tise, Proslavery, 65-6). With dedication leaf; without rear advertisement leaf. Sabin 8468. Howes B-835. Shoemaker & Cooper 23939. OCLC lists 19 copies. Excision of owner signature to upper margin of title page without affecting text.

Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, slight edge-wear, soiling to self-wrappers. An important early work in the history of slavery, in extremely good condition.