"THE FIRST AMERICAN BOOK TO CALL FOR IMMEDIATE EMANCIPATION, AN END TO ALL FORMS OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION": FIRST EDITION OF LYDIA MARIA CHILD'S APPEAL IN FAVOR OF… AMERICANS CALLED AFRICANS, 1833
(SLAVERY) CHILD, Mrs. [Lydia Maria]. An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans. Boston: Allen and Ticknor, 1833. Small octavo ( 4-3/4 by 7-1/2 inches), original pebbled green cloth rebacked with original spine preserved, later printed paper spine label. Housed in a custom folding chemise and half morocco slipcase. $4000.
First edition of "a central document of the abolitionist movement," the revolutionary 1833 work that made Lydia Maria Child "one of the first Americans to speak out against the institution of slavery," complete with three steel engravings, including the iconic frontispiece of an enslaved woman, full-page engraving of slave manacles and torture devices, and full-page engraving of Mungo Park with an African woman, a handsome copy in original cloth, housed in a custom chemise and half morocco slipcase.
By the 1830s Child was already a popular novelist, essayist and magazine writer, and the founder of America's first children's magazine, Juvenile Miscellany. When her Appeal appeared in 1833, however, public outrage threatened both her career and her safety. A meeting with William Lloyd Garrison in 1830 had propelled Child toward the massive research she undertook for this pioneering work, which made her the "acknowledged leader of the abolitionist movement… [yet] it was dangerous to be an abolitionist in the 1830s. Two months after Child published her Appeal, mob violence against abolitionists broke out across the country… Unlike many abolitionists, she believed that racial prejudice in the North was almost as bad as slavery in the South. Racial discrimination of any form, she constantly insisted, should have no place in a republic based on the ideals of equality, freedom and opportunity" (Kenschaft, 6-8). Senator Charles Sumner, one of "the most important of those who influenced Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation" (ANB), always credited Child's "Appeal with awakening him to the injustice of slavery. So did Wendell Phillips, who was to become one of the greatest orators of the abolitionist movement" (Kenschaft, 6-8). Frederick Douglass also paid tribute to the white abolitionist, saying her Appeal, "issued, as it was, at an early stage in the antislavery conflict, was one of the most effective agencies in arousing attention to the cruelty and injustice of slavery" (Life and Times, 470-41).
In authoring her Appeal, "Child marshaled an enormous amount of data to show that black people are intellectually and morally equal to whites… In every way she could think of, she insisted that racial prejudice had no legitimate ground and that blacks and whites could and should learn to live together as equals—even, if they wanted to, as husbands and wives These were radical ideas in the 1830s and the Appeal produced a storm of outrage" (Kenschaft, 47). Its "very title defines blacks as Americans… Her eight chapters survey the history of slavery and the African slave trade… describe American slave law as the harshest in the world, demonstrate the possibility of safe emancipation and the greater profitability of free labor over slave labor, examine the ways in which the Constitution allows slaveholding states to dominate Congress and govern national policy… refute claims that Africans are intellectually inferior and morally debased, and condemn racial prejudice in the North" (Karcher, 136-7). To historian Patricia Heaman, Child's Appeal is "a central document of the abolitionist movement" (Melus V.24:3, 175), "Despite the emotional and financial hardship caused by her antislavery views, Child refused to be silenced… becoming one of the first Americans to speak out against the institution of slavery" (ANB). Complete with the famed engraved frontispiece of a kneeling enslaved woman from an 1827 painting by Henry Thomson, along with the full-page engraving of devices used in the Middle Passage and later to torture and restrain Africans, including handcuffs, leg irons, a thumbscrew and a speculum oris that was used to force open a slave's mouth to compel feeding, with image of slaves packed in below the decks of a slave ship. Together with the full-page engraving that depicts Mongo Park and an African woman who came to his aid when in Bambarra. Found in blue-green cloth (this copy), russet cloth, and brown cloth; no priority established. With tipped-in errata slip. Sabin 12711. Work, 299. BAL 3116. See Blockson 9186. Small numerical notation to rear pastedown.
Interior generally fresh with frontis, tissue guards and title page skillfully washed and with expert paper repairs, otherwise lightest scattered foxing; bright original pebbled cloth boards. A highly desirable near-fine copy.