"THE FIRST SUBSTANTIAL LEGAL TREATISE ON AMERICAN SLAVERY": FIRST EDITION OF STROUD'S SKETCH OF THE LAWS, 1827, VERY SCARCE UNCUT IN ORIGINAL BOARDS
(SLAVERY) STROUD, George M. A Sketch of the Laws Relating to Slavery in the Several States of the United States of America. Philadelphia: Kimber and Sharpless, 1827. Octavo, original half tan and light brown paper boards, uncut. $1350.
First edition of Judge Stroud's groundbreaking 1827 work documenting state slave laws and relevant Constitutional provisions, held as a key resource for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, a cornerstone volume “considered by many the best of the ante-bellum studies" on slavery, uncut in original boards.
"The ink was hardly dry on the Constitution when the powers of Congress relative to slavery were called into question" (Dumond, 153). The Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1793, and in 1819 Congress began a bitter debate over slavery in the territories that culminated in the 1820 Missouri Act. At this time Philadelphia Judge George Stroud began work on Sketch of the Laws. "This work, the first substantial legal treatise on American slavery, is considered by many the best of the ante-bellum studies" (Cohen 9877). His coverage of state slave codes and Constitutional provisions is a cornerstone of the legal literature. Published well before "the Dred Scott decision, Stroud's book had extensive influence upon national legal thinking on the issue of slavery. For example, it is believed by some scholars that Harriet Beecher Stowe gained her knowledge of slave laws from Stroud's work" (Johnson, Stroud's Slave Laws, vi). In legal literature of antislavery, one key group is on "slave codes and their administration. The purpose of these works was to use slave law as data, credible data, as to the realities of slavery. The first, and in many ways the best, of these works was George Stroud, A Sketch of the Laws" (Cover, Justice Accused, 149n). Blockson 9965. Sabin 93097. Work, 343. Harvard Law Catalogue II:680.
Text generally fresh with scattered foxing, mild embrowning, mild edge-wear, rubbing to spine label. A very good copy of a major early work on slavery.