"IN THIS BOOK WILL BE FOUND… THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA…": RARE PRESENTATION COPY OF ONE OF THE CLASSICS OF THE CIVIL WAR AND CONSTITUTIONAL THOUGHT, BY THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERACY, 1868-70 FIRST EDITION, WITH LENGTHY DEDICATION LETTER PENNED AND SIGNED BY ALEXANDER STEPHENS BOUND IN
STEPHENS, Alexander. A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States. Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Atlanta; Chicago and St. Louis: National Publishing and Zeigler McCurdy, (1868-70). Two volumes bound in one. Octavo, 20th-century three-quarter brown morocco gilt, raised bands, top edge gilt. $15,000.
First edition of the “most elaborate—and best—argument for the constitutional validity of the doctrine of state sovereignty and the right of secession” (Howes), written by the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens. Very scarce presentation copy with a dedication letter entirely penned, signed, and dated by Stephens bound in at the front, which reads in part: "In this Book will be found as the author thinks not only the true principles of the Constitution of the United States of America; but a truthful exposition of the real cause, character and conduct of the late [war] between those States…"
Alexander Stephens had a remarkable career, rising from youthful poverty and overcoming extreme physical frailty to be one of the most influential American politicians and constitutional thinkers of the 19th century. After success as a lawyer earned him a fortune, Stephens served in the Georgia legislatures and then the U.S. House of Representatives from 1839 to 1859, where he was friendly with Abraham Lincoln. He then served as vice president of the Confederacy throughout the Civil War. As the war progressed Stephens was increasingly at odds with President Jefferson Davis, and was one of the leader of efforts for a peace settlement; he was one of the three Confederate leaders to meet with Lincoln at the Hampton Roads Peace Conference. After the war he was imprisoned for five months, during which time he began work on the present work. Stephens was fully reconciled to the outcome of the war, and served again in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1873 until his election as Governor of Georgia in 1882 (he died the same year).
The dedication letter from Stephens bound into the front matter reads: "In this Book will be found as the author thinks not only the true principles of the Constitution of the United States of America; but a truthful exposition of the real cause, character and conduct of the late [war] between those States with its results up to the time at which it was written. Mr. Pliny Freeman the author hopes will give it at least a careful as well as thorough and impartial perusal. Washington D.C. 18 Feby 1874. Alexander H. Stephens." The 20 plates include 16 portraits and, in Volume II, a map of Manassas and three facsimiles of autograph correspondence between the author and Abraham Lincoln. With two leaves of publisher's advertisements bound in at rear of Volume II; Volume I without leaf of ads at rear. A typed transcript of Stephens' statement has been bound in as well. Eicher 174. Howes S938. In Tall Cotton 173. Nicholson, 800. Work, 368. See Sabin 91279; Wright 1075. The recipient, Pliny Freeman, was a New York actuary who controlled one of the first mutual insurance companies, New York Life, for many years. He spent much time in Washington in the 1860s and '70s lobbying Congress.
Internally clean and fresh. A handsomely bound volume in fine condition, most desirable with Stephens' manuscript statement.