July 2022 Catalogue

Black Americana and Abolition – 44 – Bauman Rare Books - July 2022 “The Color Of The Prisoner’s Skin, And The Form Of His Features Are Not Impressed Upon The Spiritual Mind… He Is Still Your Brother, And Mine” 74. (SEWARD, William) HALL, Benjamin F. The Trial of William Freeman, For the Murder of John G. Van Nest, Including the Evidence and the Arguments of Counsel, With the Decision of the Supreme Court Granting a New Trial, And an Account of the Death of the Prisoner, And of the Post-Mortem Examination of His Body. Auburn, 1848. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown morocco, custom cloth clamshell box. $4500. First edition of the definitive report documenting the controversial 1846 trial of African American William Freeman, with extensive reportage, expert medical testimony and the famed defense of Freeman by William H. Seward, “one of the most prominent antislavery politicians of the antebellum period.” When Freeman was charged with murdering John Van Nest and his family in 1846, Lincoln’s future Secretary of State, William Seward, became a target of rage for choosing to defend him. Wrongly convicted at 16 to hard labor in prison, Van Nest endured “severe injury when he was repeatedly hit on the head with a length of wood. From then on, he suffered from deafness and existed in a state of mental confusion” (New York Historical Society). While “there was never any doubt that the local jury would return a guilty verdict… Seward’s defense of Freeman became famous throughout the country” (Kearns Goodwin, 86). The Freeman case is deemed the “first use of the insanity defense in the United States” (Historical Society). The Freeman case is “a landmark in American history” (Weiss & Gupta). Early owner inscription. Small numerical notation to rear pastedown. Text with scattered marginal foxing, rubbing to contemporary boards, binding expertly restored and recased with endpapers renewed.