"THE PIVOTAL FIGURE IN THE 18TH-CENTURY CAMPTAIGN TO ABOLISH SLAVERY": 1762 EDITION OF ANTHONY BENEZET'S LANDMARK ANTISLAVERY WORK, BOUND IN ONE VOLUME WITH OTHER QUAKER WORKS, WITH A CONTEMPORARY BENEZET PROVENANCE
(BENEZET, Anthony). A Short Account of that Part of Africa, Inhabited by the Negroes… and the Manner by which the Slave Trade is carried on… Second Edition, with large Additions and Amendments. Philadelphia: Printed by W. Dunlap. 1762; BOUND WITH: LAW, William. An Extract from a Treatise Called, The Spirit of Prayer. Philadelphia: Printed by B. Franklin, and D. Hall, 1760; BOUND WITH: HARTLEY, Thomas. A Discourse on Mistakes concerning Religion, Enthusiasm, Experiences, &c. London Printed. Germantown reprinted: Christopher Sower, 1759 [i.e. 1760]; BOUND WITH: DELL, William. Christ's Spirit, A Christian's Strength. Germantown: Christopher Sower, 1760. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown sheep, marbled boards, raised bands, black calf spine label. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $9000.
1762 greatly expanded and revised edition of the same year's first edition of Benezet's pioneering work—"the first practical manual for attacking the slave trade"—a key influence on African-born abolitionists Quobna Ottabah Cugoano and Olaudah Equiano, together in one volume with Franklin and Hall's Philadelphia printing of the first American edition of Law's Extract from a Treatise, and two other Quaker works, an especially rare copy with owner inscriptions traced to Benezet, given by him to a fellow Quaker woman.
"Benezet is the pivotal figure in the 18th-century campaign to abolish slavery and the slave trade." While it would take the Civil War and a constitutional amendment to end legal slavery, "the campaign to abolish transatlantic slavery effectively began in Philadelphia… and at its epicenter was Anthony Benezet." In this, his first work on Africa, Benezet made "his greatest contribution to antislavery rhetoric." He changed the argument "from an emphasis on religious teaching and philosophical principles to an emphasis on empirical facts about Africans in Africa, how they were treated by European traders, and… depicts them as fully human, capable of great achievement and great suffering." "Benezet had a tremendous influence on Benjamin Franklin" (Jackson & Kozel, 62), and was quoted "at length in the great 1792 Parliamentary debates about the abolition of the slave trade" (Encyclopedia of Anti-Slavery and Abolition I:88).
This first revised and expanded edition of A Short Account
, issued within months of the same year's shorter first edition, added nearly 30 pages of documentation and "proposed the first comprehensive plan to emancipate enslaved Africans in the colonies, reimburse them for their labor, and offer them a path to citizenship… in doing so he produced the first practical manual for attacking the slave trade" (Crosby, Complete Antislavery Writings
, 1-2, 26-7). Benezet's work "also greatly influenced the famed African-born abolitionists, Quobna Ottabah Cugoano and Olaudah Equiano. Both of these men were kidnapped as children from Africa and relied on Benezet's writings to enhance their knowledge of their homelands" (Jackson and Kozel, Quakers and Their Allies
, 64). Benezet had been a member of the Overseers of the Press for the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Friends, but the Board of Overseers "did not approve of the first two editions of A Short Account
, so Benezet published it anonymously. From this experience it had become clear to him that he would have to move beyond the province of Pennsylvania, so A Short Account
became his last work addressed only to 'the inhabitants of Pennsylvania'" (Jackson, Let This Voice Be Heard
The volume also features Franklin and Hall's very scarce Philadelphia printing of Extract from a Treatise (1750) by English clergyman William Law, who "was tutor to the historian Gibbon" (Curtis, 146). This is the first American edition of Law's Treatise, which also appears as the first title in the same year's Collection of Devotional Tracts assembled by Benezet "during the spring of 1760 in a lot of 500 copies for distribution to those of a religious disposition" (Miller 731). This volume's two remaining tracts also appear in that 1760 Collection: the first American edition of Thomas Hartley's A Discourse on Mistakes concerning Religion (preceded by the London edition), and William Dell's Christ's Spirit, A Christian Strength (1651) both issued by the eminent Philadelphia printer Christopher Sower (alt. Saur; Sauer). Second edition of Short History. Each of the four works with an individual title page. Separately paginated: Benezet, pp (2) 3-80; Law, pp (2) 3-47 (1). Continuously paginated: Hartley, pp (2), 3-71 (1); Dell, pp (3) 76-121 (1) 123-168. (Benezet) ESTC W29401. Evans 9067. See Sabin 4686; Evans 9066; ESTC W3464. (Law) Miller 731. Sabin 39324. Hildeburn 1681. Evans 8633. ESTC W32231. See Sabin 39325. (Hartley) Sabin 30696. Hildeburn 1628. Evans 8364. ESTC W30837. See Hildeburn 1667; Miller 730. (Dell) Sabin 19437. Hildeburn 1667. Evans 8576. See Miller 730; ESTC R13093. This volume has an early and extensive provenance. The Short Account title page contains an inscription in Latin in an unidentified hand, "E Libris, Gul. Fenthams, dono datus ab, Amico bini dilecto, A. Benezetto" (partially translated as a "book given by a friend"). The volume's initial blank leaf contains an early owner inscription: "Mary Harvey her Boock[sic] given to her by A Benezetto." While the title page inscription is not in the hand of abolitionist Benezet, we have verified that he and his wife Joyce were members of the Quaker community in Burlington, NJ, where they moved four years before he established his school for African American children in Philadelphia. Among other Quakers in Burlington at that time was a woman named Mary Harvey. The Benezet's own children died before the publication date.
Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, slight edge-wear, rubbing to contemporary boards. A highly desirable copy, a turning point in the antislavery cause, with a rare provenance.