Report on... Citizens Liable to be Sold as Slaves

Thomas KINNICUTT   |   George BRADBURN

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Item#: 123528 price:$4,000.00

Report on... Citizens Liable to be Sold as Slaves


(SLAVERY) (BRADBURN, George) (KINNICUTT, Thomas). Report on the Deliverance of Citizens, Liable to Be Sold as Slaves. House… No. 38. (Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1839). Octavo, original cream printed self-wrappers, early stitching; pp. (1-2), 3-36. $4000.

First edition of the landmark 1839 Massachusetts Report firmly referencing the Constitution's privileges and immunities clause in presenting the state's "first formal protest against the laws of racial discrimination along the southern coast," uncut in original self-wrappers.

At the 1839 meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, Wendell Phillips urged abolitionists to mount a challenge against southern coastal states that seized Massachusetts citizens and sold them into slavery. Not long after, there appeared "a 28-page report addressed to the state legislature," signed by George Bradburn, a young minister from Nantucket. In its first official printing herein, Bradburn prominently cites Article IV, Section II of the U.S. Constitution, known as the privileges and immunities clause, and documents those states in violation of the clause. Bradburn's work dominates this official Report on the Deliverance of Citizens, marking the state's "first formal protest against the laws of racial discrimination along the southern coast" (Glass, Citizens of the State, 898-99, 900). The Constitution's privileges and immunities clause reflects the "founding period's state-based ideas of citizenship and federalism that protected state sovereignty and racial slavery." To many it speaks to the founders' sense of ensuring states did not discriminate toward outsiders "with respect to the rights and privileges that a state granted its citizens… this point is also supported by Alexander Hamilton's comments in Federalist Papers Number 80, where… he declared that the privileges and immunities clause formed 'the basis of the union' because it established 'equality of privileges and immunities to which the citizens of the Union [were] entitled' in cases where citizens from one state needed to secure rights in their nonresident state" (Finkelman, ed., Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties II:1230-31). Bradburn covers individual cases of free Black men and women imprisoned and often sold, including the case of Eral Lonnon, a "free man of color who was a descendant of Wampanoag Indians… held in a New Orleans jail under presumption of being a fugitive slave" (Bell, Freeing Erol Lonnon).

This official Report "was presented to the Massachusetts General Court (the legislature) by a special joint committee in 1839. It… led to the passage of Chapter 66 of the Resolves of 1839 that directed the Governor to seek legal release and transport of Massachusetts citizens imprisoned in other states 'on suspicion of being a slave'" (Bell, Freeing Erol Lonnon). In 1844 a state agent was appointed "to take the unprecedented step of challenging the constitutionality of these laws in federal court" (Glass, 900-901). Bradburn, a respected abolitionist and Unitarian minister, was a friend and colleague of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Lydia Maria Child. "His greatest moments came during 1839-43, when he led the antislavery cause in the Massachusetts legislature, stood up for women's rights at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention, and went on a memorable lecture tour with Douglass. According to Lysander Spooner, he was at that time 'more widely known throughout the Northern states than almost any of the other anti-slavery orators'" (Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography). First edition, first printing: House of Representatives March 6, 1839 No. 38. Rear leaf containing the four proposed Resolves. Work, 302. Owner signature above front wrapper.

Text quite fresh with faint scattered foxing, small gutter-edge holes. A very scarce near-fine copy.

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