"AT THIS MOMENT THE SWORD IS PERHAPS SUSPENDED BY A SINGLE HAIR, WHICH, AT ONE STROKE, MAY DISSEVER THE UNION!": FIRST EDITION OF MASSACHUSETTS ABOLITIONIST LEADER STEPHEN PHILLIPS’ CONTROVERSIAL 1845 ADDRESS ON THE ANNEXATION OF TEXAS
(CIVIL WAR) PHILLIPS, Stephen C. An Address on the Annexation of Texas, and the Aspect of Slavery in the United States, in Connection Therewith: Delivered in Boston November 14 and 18, 1845. Boston: Wm. Crosby and H. P. Nichols, 1845. Slim octavo, original wrappers, later stitching; pp. 56.
First edition of the influential Massachusetts abolitionist's fiery 1845 Address calling on James Madison and asserting the annexation of Texas will make the U.S. "government the instrument of the Slave-holding states for the perpetuation of slavery." This provocative work calling, in effect, for secession—proclaiming that if the Union cannot be maintained "upon a practical basis of equal rights and common interest… it must cease to exist!," vey scarce in original unrestored wrappers.
"The road to civil war began in Texas." Prominent Northern abolitionists such as Stephen Phillips "had long pointed a warning finger at the unsavory alliance between the political leaders of the cotton South and the thousands of American settlers who… wrested control of the province from Mexico in 1836. When the demand quickly arose for the annexation of Texas by the U.S…. opposition of John Quincy Adams in Congress" and antislavery forces led by Charles Sumner, William Lloyd Garrison and Phillips, seemed to have made annexation untenable for President Van Buren by the end of his tenure in 1841. Yet the issue again "burst upon the public in April 1844, with the revelation that the U.S. government had concluded a secret treaty of annexation with Texas that President Tyler would forward to the Senate for ratification." Proslavery John Calhoun loudly contended Britain would "subsidize abolition in Texas and make it a client state that would become a beacon for runaway slaves" and firmly tied "annexation to the defense of slavery" (Mayer, All on Fire, 336-39) Historians have called "Texas a 'Pandora's box,'" in which "the geopolitics of slavery seemed to push the country to the brink of disunion" (Schermerhorn, Unrequited Toil, 170-72).
Stephen Phillips, the preeminent Massachusetts abolitionist, served three terms in Congress and also ran as a Free-Soil candidate for governor before his death in 1857. In this provocative 1845 Address, which he delivered in Boston on November 14 and 15 of the same year, he points to James Madison's concerns, "at the formation of the Constitution,… that the chief danger to the Union would arise… from the essential difference in character and in interests between the Free and Slave-holding States." Phillips asserts the "sole object of annexation is to make the general government the instrument of the Slave-holding States for the perpetuation of slavery" and boldly proclaims: "at this moment the sword is perhaps suspended by a single hair, which, at one stroke, may dissever the Union!" Calling, in effect, for Massachusetts to secede, he asserts that if the Union cannot be maintained "upon a practical basis of equal rights and common interest… it must cease to exist!" Streeter 1605. Rader 2659. Sabin 62518. LCP Afro-Americana 8164.
Text generally fresh, light edge-wear minimally affecting text, original wrappers with a few expert repairs. An excellent, extremely good copy in original wrappers.