"THERE WAS IN JOHN BROWN A COMPLETE IDENTIFICATION WITH THE OPPRESSED": FIRST EDITION OF THE JOHN BROWN INVASION, 1860, FEATURING THE FIRST PRINTING OF RALPH WALDO EMERSON'S NOVEMBER 18, 1859 SPEECH AT TREMONT TEMPLE, WITH ENGRAVED FRONTISPIECE PORTRAIT OF BROWN AND ORIGINAL WRAPPERS BOUND IN
(BROWN, John) (EMERSON, Ralph Waldo) (DREW, Thomas). The John Brown Invasion. An Authentic History of the Harper's Ferry Tragedy with Full Details of the Capture, Trial, and Execution of the Invaders, and All of the Incidents Connected Therewith. Boston: James Campbell, 1860. Octavo, contemporary half black morocco and marbled boards, original brown paper wrappers bound in; pp. (ii), (1-5), 6-112. $2600.
First edition, issued within months of John Brown's Harpers Ferry raid, trial and execution, with early reportage, trial testimony and his November 2 address to the court that put "slavery itself on trial," featuring the first printing of Emerson's November 18 Speech at Boston's Tremont Temple, delivered two weeks before Brown's execution, containing engraved frontispiece portrait of Brown, in contemporary half morocco and marble boards with original papers wrappers bound in.
To African American historian Lerone Bennett, Jr., John Brown "was an elemental force like wind, rain and fire… there was in John Brown a complete identification with the oppressed." Frederick Douglass, Brown's trusted friend, once observed: "If John Brown did not end the war on slavery, he did, at least, begin the war that ended slavery" (Reynolds, John Brown, 504, ix). This first edition of John Brown Invasion, compiled by Thomas Drew, assembles in one volume a detailed contemporary chronicle of Brown's Harpers Ferry raid that began on the night of October 16, and ended two days later when he was captured by soldiers under the command of Robert E. Lee. The book features early reportage, interviews with Brown, correspondence with family members and abolitionists such as Lydia Maria Child, speeches by Wendell Phillips and other leading abolitionists, and extensive coverage of Brown's trial, along with the trials and executions of Shields Green, John Copeland (aka Copland), Edwin Coppic and John Cook.
Historians have noted an especially key point in Brown's trial, one that fundamentally impacted the history of slavery and his legacy: "Brown had been compelled to endure his trial in near silence. Virginia adhered to the so-called 'interested party' rule—as did every state in 1859—which prohibited a criminal defendant from testifying in his own behalf… That would change when he came before the court for sentencing. Judge Parker ordered Brown to stand before the bench on Wednesday morning, November 2, while the clerk read the obligatory question. Did the defendant have 'anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced upon him?' Eloquently and defiantly, Brown seized the moment." In a brief address to the court, printed here, Brown fundamentally took "control of the courtroom by… placing slavery itself on trial. In less than half an hour, Brown had transformed himself from a murderer to a martyr '" (Lubet, Execution in Virginia, 6-7).
This work is also highly notable in containing the first printing of Ralph Waldo Emerson's November 18 Speech at Boston's Tremont Temple, in which Emerson cites Brown's November 2nd address, and praises him as a man who "believes in the Union of America, and he conceives that the only obstruction to the Union is slavery…Is this the kind of man the gallows is built for?" Historian David Reynolds has speculated: "What would have happened if Brown had not violently disrupted the racist juggernaut that was America?… It took nine decades of struggle for America to approach John Brown's goal of civil rights for all ethnic minorities. Even today the goal is not fully realized. W.E.B. Du Bois' startling pronouncement thunders through American history. Indeed, 'John Brown was right'" (John Brown, 505-6). With engraved frontispiece portrait from a photograph by Whipple; with facsimile inscription below image. Preface by journalist and editor Thomas Drew signed and dated in print: "Boston, Dec. 21, 1839." Bound-in original wrappers with "Price Twenty-Five Cents" on front wrapper; publisher's advertisement on rear wrapper. Sabin 8518. Howes D499. (Emerson; pp. 103-105) BAL 5232. Bookplate.
Interior very fresh with lightest scattered foxing, light edge-wear to boards and spine.