Archive of Americana


‘The Grievances of the Fair Secesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an address on slavery by one of America’s Founding Fathers, a biography of William Pitt which contains a description of the Middle Passage, and a history of the 19th Colored Infantry Regiment.


 

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An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements on the Slavery of the Negroes in America (1773)

By Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) signed the Declaration of Independence, attended the Continental Congress, supported the American Revolution, and opposed slavery. He also founded Dickinson College, served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and was a leader of the American Enlightenment.

Rush viewed Africans as equals to Europeans and argues here that any differences are either products of slavery or only skin deep. He writes:

…we are to distinguish between an African in his own country, and an African in a state of slavery in America. Slavery is so foreign to the human mind, that the moral faculties, as well as those of the understanding are debased, and rendered torpid by it. All the vices which are charged upon the Negroes in the southern colonies and the West-Indies, such as Idleness, Treachery, Theft, and the like, are the genuine offspring of slavery, and serve as an argument to prove that they were not intended for it.

‘The Grievances of the Fair Secesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Game of Zones: How Austria Unraveled the Iron Curtain

Austria 1.pngI’m thinking of a city, the glittering capital of a German-speaking people. It was the seat of monarchs and dictators before being bombed into submission during World War II. It was divided into four administrative districts by the victorious Allied powers following that war, and so came late to democracy. It was an island of independence and intrigue deep within territory under Soviet control. Adolf Hitler haunted its streets and harangued the crowds from its balconies. Perhaps you've heard of it? Berlin? No, I'm thinking of Vienna, Austria.

At the end of World War II all the pieces were in place for Vienna to suffer the fate of Berlin: a prestigious urban capital; strategic and economic importance; symbolic significance as an exclamation point marking the end of the Nazi program of German reunification. Yet Vienna and Austria were granted independence in 1955, while Berlin and East Germany labored under communism until 1990. Why such different outcomes?

 

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Game of Zones: How Austria Unraveled the Iron Curtain

‘The President Has Been Shot’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The July release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes several regimental histories and other recollections of the war. Highlighted here are reminiscences of cavalrymen from Ohio and New York, and a collection of engravings depicting various battles from American history.


The Battles of America by Sea and Land (1875)

By Robert Tomes

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Robert Tomes (1817-1882) was a physician, diplomat and writer. He practiced medicine briefly in New York before working as a surgeon for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and making several voyages between San Francisco and Panama. Tomes was appointed U.S. consul at Rheims, France, in 1865 and served until 1867. His The Great Civil War a History of the Late Rebellion can also be found in The American Civil War Collection. In this assemblage of images, published to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the American Revolution, Tomes includes engravings of battles and commanders from many wars including the Civil War.

The Buffalo, NY, Superintendent of Education offered the following endorsement:

Having examined the engravings of your work entitled “BATTLES OF AMERICA,” and carefully read some of the advance numbers, I cheerfully recommend it to the reading public. The engravings are of fine execution and are new in design, affording a decided relief from most other works.

‘The President Has Been Shot’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘Mutterings of Pent-up Wrath’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes examinations of slavery and the slave trade by a poet, an abolitionist society, and a Methodist minister.


 

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The Works of Hannah More (1835)

By Hannah More

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Hannah More (1745-1833) was a poet, playwright, and philanthropist. She was born in Bristol, England and became involved with the literary elite of London as her writing career progressed. More wrote primarily on moral and religious subjects and campaigned against the slave trade. This two-volume anthology of More’s writings begins with a note from the publisher:

When the veil of mortality descends upon splendid genius, that has been long devoted to the instruction and best interests of mankind, the noblest monument that can be erected to commemorate its worth and perpetuate its usefulness, is the collection of those productions which, when separately published, delighted and edified the world.

No writer of the past or present age has equaled HANNAH MORE in the application of great talents to the improvement of society, through all its distinctions, from the humblest to the most exalted station in life.

More’s poem The Slave Trade evidences such praise is well deserved. She writes:

‘Mutterings of Pent-up Wrath’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘The Demagogue and His Recital of Imaginary Wrongs’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The June release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes unique accounts of the war by two Union surgeons and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.  


 

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Three Years in the Sixth Corps (1879)

By George Thomas Stevens

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George Thomas Stevens (1832-1921) served as a surgeon in the 77th Regiment of New York Volunteers. He draws on his own contemporaneous notes, official reports, and letters from officers to write “a concise narrative of events in the Army of the Potomac from 1861 to the close of the rebellion, April, 1865.”

Stevens describes his regiment’s march to Gettysburg, writing:

‘The Demagogue and His Recital of Imaginary Wrongs’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a clergyman’s critique of Thomas Jefferson’s candidacy for the presidency, a Quaker’s message to slave-owners, and an abolitionist’s speech from the floor of the House of Representatives.


 

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Serious Considerations on the Election of a President (1800)

By William Linn

Reverend William Linn (1752-1808) served as a chaplain in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and was the first Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. Linn opposed Thomas Jefferson’s presidential run for religious reasons.

…my objection to his being promoted to the Presidency is founded singly upon his disbelief of the Holy Scriptures; or, in other words, his rejection of the Christian Religion and open profession of Deism.

Linn turns to Jefferson’s writings to prove he is not a Christian. Linn quotes Jefferson casting doubt on a global flood and making reference to an age of the earth greater than 6000 years. He then quotes Jefferson’s musings on various races of people and how they compared:

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

The May release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes many exceptionally rare imprints. Among them are an illustrated early reader presenting the “inhabitants of the world,” a novella about virtue rewarded, and a comic account of a clever Scotsman who entertained and defied King James VI.


 

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Inhabitants of the World, Alphabetically Arranged (1818)

 

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This imprint was donated to the American Antiquarian Society by James d’Alté Aldridge Welch (1907-1970) who was a noted collector of early American children’s books and who published bibliographies of this genre. One of the extremely rare works he donated to the society, “Inhabitants of the World” has an entry for each letter of the alphabet. Every entry has a handsome illustration and a brief description. Naturally, we begin with A.

African

Though much oppressed, and slaves to many nations, yet they are laborious, forbearing, and ingenious.

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

Four New Bookmarks and Posters Available for Readex Collections

For libraries looking to create awareness and increase usage of their Readex collections, we have created four new sets of posters and bookmarks to support those goals. 

The artwork for each of these items may now be individually downloaded for local printing.  To download artwork for one or more of the four posters seen immediately below, please contact the Readex marketing department. To download bookmark artwork, please click on the links below the posters.

For African American Newspapers

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For Caribbean Newspapers

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For Early American Imprints

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And for Early American Newspapers

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Four New Bookmarks and Posters Available for Readex Collections

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

There’s general agreement that as recently as 11,000 years ago the Asian and North American continents were connected by a land bridge over which hominids and other animals crossed. Today, the Bering Strait is only about 50 miles wide at its narrowest point, and less than 200 feet deep.

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Two small islands are situated midway between the continental land masses. Big Diomede Island belongs to Russia; Little Diomede Island belongs to the United States. The islands are separated by approximately two miles—and the International Date Line.

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For reference, the English Channel, between the United Kingdom and France, is about 20 miles wide and similar in depth to the Bering Strait. An undersea tunnel was proposed there during the 19th century, and has since been completed. The Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, was built in 1869. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914. In keeping with these ambitious projects, some structure across or beneath the Bering Strait has long been suggested as both practical and possible.

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

‘This Execrable Commerce….This Assemblage of Horrors’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The May release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several editions of Henry Home, Lord Kames’ Sketches of the History of Man, a fictional account of the American South, and an extensive collection of Thomas Jefferson’s writings.


 

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Sketches of the History of Man (1775)

By Henry Home, Lord Kames

Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782) was a Scottish judge, philosopher, and writer. A central figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, he boasts David Hume, Adam Smith, and James Boswell as protegees. Introducing this multi-volume work, Home writes:

Whether there be different races of men, or whether all men be of one race, without any difference but what proceeds from climate or other accident, is a profound question of natural history, which remains still undetermined after all that has been said upon it.

In attempting an answer Home argues against the then speculative idea of evolutionary change over time and Carl Linnaeus’s earlier recognition of the hierarchical nature of species. Home shares with Linnaeus, however, the notion species are fixed according to Providence. Attempting to support his assertion, Home conflates species, breed, and kind before turning to special pleading.

‘This Execrable Commerce….This Assemblage of Horrors’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

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