Progress of Slavery


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WESTON, George M. The Progress of Slavery in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Published by the Author, 1857. Octavo, original blindstamped brown cloth.

First edition of the influential free-soil economist’s self-published work issued shortly before the Civil War, arguing for an end to slavery not with emancipation but with black expatriation and white settlement of the border states, expressing the views of many abolitionists who believed white superiority would lead to the “gradual and peaceful” disappearance of the African slave.

Weston, a Northern free-soil economist, was a leading voice for abolitionists who rejected the emancipation of slaves as championed by Garrison, Douglass and others—arguing instead for black expatriation or colonization. In the 1850s Republicans such as Weston and, for a time, even Lincoln, saw expatriation "as the only policy that promised freedom and independence for the blacks, while at the same time coming to grips with what Lincoln regarded as the unalterable facts of American race relations" (Fredrickson, Black Image, 149). If Lincoln ultimately chose emancipation, many white Republicans like Weston did not, believing "free labor settlements in the border states would demonstrate the superiority of free to slave labor, arouse the latent anti-slavery feelings of the southern poor whites, and begin the process of overthrowing slavery" (Foner, Free Soil, 53). "The organized infusion of antislavery migrants into the border slave states, as well as into Kansas and Nebraska, Weston and others claimed, could effectively undermine slavery" (Glickstein, American Exceptionalism, 160). Citing Malthus, Benjamin Franklin and others, Weston spoke for many abolitionists in observing: "When the white artisans and farmers want the room which the African occupies, they will take it not by rude force, but by gentle and gradual and peaceful processes. The Negro will disappear, perhaps to regions more congenial to him, perhaps to regions where his labors can be made more useful, perhaps by some process of colonization we may yet devise; but at all event he will disappear" (34). Blockson 9876. Initial blank with early owner inscriptions in an unidentified hand likely indicating this copy's passage through several hands: "Presented to William L. Fleming. by Senator Wade of Ohio" is followed in the same cursive by, "Presented to Stephen Terley by William L. Fleming of Washington." The inscription refers to Senator Wade, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1851 "by a combination of Whigs and Free Soilers, and for the next 18 years he was to represent Ohio… Strongly opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which opened the West to slavery, Wade joined with others to found the Republican party in Ohio.. His political prominence caused him to be mentioned for the presidency in 1860… Dissatisfied with Lincoln's much more moderate policy, he constantly pressured the administration to move faster, remove Democratic generals and free the slaves… A true radical animated by egalitarian sentiments, the dark-complexioned, beardless Wade played an important role in enabling the Republican party to move forward" (ANB).

Text generally fresh with scattered foxing mainly to preliminaries, expert restoration to original cloth. A very good copy.

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