"OBEDIENCE TO THE FIGUTIVE LAW, IS TREASON TO CIVIL GOVERNMENT": FIRST EDITION OF THE LIFE, LABORS, AND TRAVELS OF ELDER CHARLES BOWLES, 1852, INCLUDING TWO FASCINATING ESSAYS ON THE EQUALITY OF PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT AND THE INJUSTICES OF THE FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW
LEWIS, John W. The Life, Labors, and Travels of Elder Charles Bowles of the Free Will Baptist Denomination. Watertown: Ingalls & Stowell's Steam Press, 1852. Octavo, original blind-stamped brown cloth. $750.
First edition of this biography of an important Black religious figure in the early years of the United States, including details of his service in the Continental Army and his later life as a Baptist minister, written by a fellow Black minister, with additional essays on the Character and Condition of the African Race and the Fugitive Slave Law.
A well-known Black Baptist preacher in later life, Charles Bowles began his life in Boston in 1761. His father was an African servant, while his mother was the daughter of Colonel Morgan, later an officer in the Rifle Corps in the Revolutionary Army. At the age of 16, Bowles enlisted in the Continental Army. Bowles felt a calling to Christianity after the war, but instead ran away to sea to avoid committing his life to the church. However, on his return, he was baptized as a Calvinistic Baptist. Bowles struggled with the doctrine of that particular church and quickly moved to the Free Will Baptist Church. Having discovered his purpose in Christianity, Bowles became a traveling preacher, conducting baptisms and setting up churches throughout New England. This experience served him well when he was finally ordained in 1816. Throughout his life, Bowles had encountered racism and his life as a Black minister preaching to Black and white congregations proved to be no exception. Nevertheless, Bowles persevered and is regarded today as an important religious figure in America after the Revolution. "The principle source of information on Bowles is the biography authored by fellow black minister and abolitionist John W. Lewis, published in 1852" (Encyclopedia of Seventh-Day Adventists). This work also includes two additional essays by Lewis (continuously paginated) discussing the character of the so-called "African race" (particularly the general humanity and need for equality of Black slaves) and objections to the Fugitive Slave Law arguing that the law flies in the face of the principles of civil government. Owner signature in blue colored pencil.
Foxing to interior, a bit of wear to cloth. A very good copy.