"A VIOLENT END TO SLAVERY… A RECKONING FOR DEEP AND DAMNING WRONGS": FIRST EDITION OF SPEECHES OF GERRIT SMITH, 1854, VERY SCARCE IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS
SMITH, Gerrit. Speeches of Gerrit Smith. In Congress 1853-'4. Washington, D.C.: Buell and Blanchard, 1854. Octavo, original printed green self-wrappers, original stitching. $1850.
First edition of nine major 1854 speeches by radical abolitionist Smith, together in print for the first time, featuring elemental works such as "No Slavery in Nebraska," defying Stephen Douglas' Kansas-Nebraska bill and denouncing "the federal government as a 'bastard democracy,'" very elusive in fragile original wrappers.
In the early 1850s Gerrit Smith, "a man of enormous emotional complexity, religious fervor, antislavery commitment and wealth… embraced political abolitionism." By then Frederick Douglass had become "an outspoken supporter… [and] rejoiced in Smith's election to Congress as a radical abolitionist in 1852" (Blight, Frederick Douglass, 207, 252). Once linked to Garrison's view of the Constitution as a "covenant with death," Smith split from him to become a founder of both the Liberty Party and the Radical Abolitionist Party. As documented in this collection of nine key speeches, Smith, in his "congressional career of 1853 and 1854,… evolved into one of America's renowned militant antislavery activists" (Gordon-Omelka, Militant Abolitionist, 2). Key works here, such as his June 14, 1854 speech, "Abolition of the Postal System," reflected his conviction that "the right to free discussion" was fundamental and that "Southerners were threatening the very openness and integrity of American democracy… Smith would not stand for it… he presaged a new generation of American abolitionists: those whose membership was inspired not by evangelical Christianity (like the earlier Garrisons and Tappans), but by secular, liberal political ideals." His attention to issues such as—"freedom of speech, civil liberties, social order, the proper role of federal and state governments with respect to slavery—motivated a new kind of political abolitionism, which attracted new groups into the movement and gave them new tools for action" (Lonky, Revolutionizing the Public Sentiment, 56).
Also notably featured here is Smith's "No Slavery in Nebraska." It stands as his defining response to Senator Stephen Douglas' December 1853 version of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, which "ultimately repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowed the territories' citizens to decide the slavery question… Smith signed Chase's abolitionist appeal against the bill" and in his April 6, 1854 "No Slavery" speech, "asserted a fresh reason to oppose the bill based on the Constitution's limits on state sovereignty.'" Denouncing "the federal government as a 'bastard democracy,'" he predicted "a violent end to slavery… a reckoning for deep and damning wrongs" (Gordon-Omelka, 12). Soon afterward, following his resignation from Congress, Smith helped establish a Black settlement at North Elba, N.Y., which was "John Brown's permanent residence from 1854 until his death" (Stauffer, Black Hearts, 3). In June 1855 Smith, Frederick Douglass and John Brown were together at the first convention in Syracuse of the Radical Abolition party. Four years later Brown was executed following the Harpers Ferry Raid that Smith helped fund, causing Smith to suffer a mental breakdown. The decade after the Civil War, he died in 1874. First edition:containing nine separately paginated speeches: Speech of Gerrit Smith, On War. In Congress, January 18, 1854. Washington, D.C.: Buell & Blanchard, 1854; Homes for All. Speech of Gerrit Smith, On the Homestead Bill. In Congress, February 21, 1854. Washington, D.C.: Buell & Blanchard, 1854; No Slavery in Nebraska: No Slavery in the Nation: Slavery an Outlaw. Speech of Gerrit Smith, on the Nebraska Bill. In Congress, April 6, 1854. (Washington, D.C.: Buell & Blanchard, 1854); Keep Government within its Limits. Speech of Gerrit Smith on the Pacific Railroad, In the House of Representatives, May 30, 1854. Washington, D.C.: Buell and Blanchard, 1854; Abolition of the Postal System. Speech of Gerrit Smith, In the House of Representatives, June 14, 1854. Washington [D.C.]: Buell & Blanchard, 1854; Speech of Gerrit Smith, On Mexican Treaty and "Monroe Doctrine." In Congress, June 27, 1854. (Buell and Blanchard: Washington, D.C., (1854)); Letter of Gerrit Smith, On the Reciprocity Treaty. No place: no publisher: (1854); Government Bound to Protect from the Dramshop. Speech of Gerrit Smith, On Sale of Intoxicating Drinks in the City of Washington. In Congress, July 22, 1854. Washington, D.C.: Buell & Blanchard, 1843; Gerrit Smith to his Constituents. Washington, D.C.: Buell & Blanchard, (1854). With Nebraska Bill partially unopened. Sabin 92595; 82634; 82635; 82639; 82642; 82649; 82658; 82659; 82660. See LCP. Afro-Americana 9513 (1855 ed.).
An excellent copy in fine condition.