Buboes, Gleets, and Chordee: New Selections from Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1819

Highlighted below are a few of the items added in May to the major new enrichment to the Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker collections of early American printed materials. These rare works, now available for the first time in Readex digital editions of Early American Imprints, are from the holdings of the American Antiquarian Society.


The porcupine, alias the hedge-hog: or, The fox turned preacher: Written after the manner of Ignatius Irony, Bartholomew Burlesque, and Samuel Satire (1795)

By L.S. living in Fox Island

Indeed, this imprint employs irony, burlesque, and satire:

“A Certain Fox (not the cunningest of his species) having frequent occasion to pass by a country church, and contrasting his own leanness with the Parson’s fatness, he concluded it more safe, as well as more honorable, to preach than to kill poultry…”

Hence, the fox attends evening lectures at the church, observing that the preacher…

…would repeatedly inform his audience, that such and such passages were wrongly translated, he determined to avail himself of this, and take the same liberty, by which means [the fox] might be enabled to construe every text to his own liking, and impose upon his hearers at pleasure.

Stealing a Bible from the church, the fox is particularly taken by a passage from Acts: “Rise Peter, kill and eat.” He determines that he shall call himself Peter and issue an address:

Buboes, Gleets, and Chordee: New Selections from Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1819

Sights Hostile to the Feelings of an Englishman: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The May release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several works that illustrate differing perspectives on the British presence in the West Indies, including England’s role in the slave trade and subsequent slave revolutions.


A Letter from Percival Stockdale to Granville Sharp Esq.: Suggested to the Author by the Present Insurrection of the Negroes, in the Island of St. Domingo (1791)

By Percival Stockdale

Percival Stockdale was an English poet, writer, and social reformer who opposed slavery.  After serving as a lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Stockdale became an ordained deacon and later took priests’ orders. As a priest Stockdale was well positioned to explore the world of literature and develop contacts with leading intellectuals and poets.

Stockdale’s letter is preceded by general information about the lives of Africans who were transported to, and enslaved in, the West Indies as well as the cost of the slave trade as a whole, a cost in human lives that remains staggering:

It is not exaggeration, to assert, that for one who lives to labor, for any time, in the West Indies, ten are destroyed.    

It appears…that if mankind, in general, were to die, in proportion to the mortality of the Slaves during their transportation to the Colonies, the human race would be extinct in ten years. Since this detestable trade began, nine millions of our fellow-creatures have been torn from their dearest connections, and sold into slavery.

  Sights Hostile to the Feelings of an Englishman: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

“Cast Down Your Bucket”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Booker Taliaferro Washington was an educator, author, orator, unofficial advisor to Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, and one of the most influential African American leaders of the period. Washington was born a slave in Hale’s Ford, Virginia, in 1856, and lived in bondage for his first nine years of life. After learning to read while working in a West Virginia coal mine and several years of part-time schooling, Washington enrolled full-time at the Hampton Institute and graduated in 1875. He spent several years teaching before accepting an offer to start a new school in Tuskegee, Alabama, where he founded what is today Tuskegee University. He spent much of his life making the university financially viable and academically respected.

The May release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several hard-to-find works by Booker T. Washington. Included are the first edition of The Story of My Life and Work, which Washington insisted be altered, and a rare imprint of a speech before Congregation Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Address of Booker T. Washington, Principal Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute Tuskegee, Ala. (1895)

“Cast Down Your Bucket”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

“A newspaper for sensible people or for fools?”: An 1894 Lecture on “The Making of a Newspaper Man”

Charles A. DanaJournalist Charles A. Dana (1819-1897), noted editor of the New York Sun, delivered a lecture on “The Making of a Newspaper Man” at Cornell University on January 11, 1894. This lecture and two related ones delivered in 1888 and 1893 were published the following year in a volume titled The Art of Newspaper Making. On January 19, 1895, the Kansas City Star published this article summarizing his Cornell address. Here’s the Star’s account of what Dana said:

Click to open in PDFThe newspaper profession is certainly a learned profession in one sense, but at the same time there are certainly many newspapers in which learning is very sparsely and very meanly applied. On the whole, the newspaper is very much like human nature—it is right sometimes and it is wrong very often. But the newspaper is not only a necessary institution, but it is a useful and beneficial institution. Just now the business of making newspapers is going through a revolution. It is passing through changes of a very radical and remarkable nature.

That revolution comes primarily from new high-speed printing presses, Dana says, and with that change…

“A newspaper for sensible people or for fools?”: An 1894 Lecture on “The Making of a Newspaper Man”

“Mohammed the Languid”: Tales of Zanzibar and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The May release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes:

  • a history of discovery and navigation, with a focus on the Mediterranean and North Africa
  • a narrative of the search for the Nile’s source
  • and translations of Swahili myths and legends.

Historical Sketch of the Progress of Discovery, Navigation, and Commerce, from the Earliest Records to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century (1824)

By William Stevenson

William Stevenson was a tutor, preacher, farmer, public servant, and historian. His history of discovery is a tour de force covering “the earliest traces of navigation and commerce” from the time of Herodotus, 450 B.C.E, to the point at which “the grand outline of the terraqueous part of the globe may be said to have been traced…”

A larger proportion of the volume is devoted to the progress of discovery and enterprise among the ancients…especially that which comprehends the commerce of the Phoeniceans, of the Egyptians under the Ptolemies, of the Greeks, and of the Romans is illustrated with more ample and minute details, than the period which has elapsed since the new world was discovered. To most readers, the nations of antiquity are known by their wars alone; we wished to exhibit them in their commercial character and relations.

“Mohammed the Languid”: Tales of Zanzibar and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Every country has its myths”: Selections from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The May release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a pair of perspectives on the customs of peoples of West Africa, works by Jules Verne on African travel, replete with richly detailed illustrations, and much more.


Trade and Travels in the Gulph of Guinea, Western Africa, with an Account of the Manners, Habits, Customs, and Religion of the Inhabitants (1851)

By John Smith

John Smith was a 19th-century surgeon and trading captain “to one of the first mercantile houses in England.” Smith made several voyages to West Africa where he came into “contact with a great number of the inhabitants” and “witnessed some extraordinary scenes.”

Though well-traveled, Smith’s own cultural assumptions are prominent in his account. In explaining his focus on a single West African country, Smith writes, “the inhabitants of one nation…will really include a description of many others, inasmuch as those different barbarous countries on the West Coast very nearly resemble each other in their customs, morals, and manners.”

Smith continued:

The author regrets the occasion of some coarse expressions and allusions to be found in this work; but, as the people he gives an account of are in so debased a state as to render the conveying anything like a correct notion of them otherwise, impossible, he deems any farther apology unnecessary.

Smith’s cultural bias, in this case specifically his religious belief, is also displayed in the introduction to a chapter on myths:

“Every country has its myths”: Selections from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“You Whine in All the Moods and Tenses”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The May release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a reply to a Confederate sympathizer’s claims of victimization, a lecture on the effects of the Civil War on national productivity, and a compilation of biographical sketches of Lincoln’s Cabinet officers, now often described as his “team of rivals.”


Political Opinions in 1776 and 1863: A Letter to a Victim of Arbitrary Arrests and “American Bastiles” (1863)

By Sidney Cromwell

Frank Key Howard, grandson of Francis Scott Key, was an editor of the Baltimore Daily Exchange and a Confederate sympathizer. In 1861, he wrote an editorial criticizing the Lincoln Administration’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, declaration of martial law in Baltimore, and arrest and imprisonment without charge of Baltimore’s mayor, police commissions, entire city council, and a sitting U.S. Congressman. In response to his editorial, Howard was himself arrested without warrant and imprisoned for over a year. He was initially confined to Fort McHenry which his famous grandfather had seen withstand a British bombardment during the War of 1812, inspiring him to write The Star Spangled Banner. After his release, Howard wrote Fourteen Months in the American Bastiles based on his experience as a political prisoner.

“You Whine in All the Moods and Tenses”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

“The Zeal of the Bigot”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The May release of the American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes rare items discussing the charge of religious fanaticism within the abolition movement and an economic approach to ending slavery by a future advisor to President Lincoln.


Immediate Abolition Vindicated (1838)

By Elderkin Jedediah Boardman, A.B., Pastor of the First Church in Randolph, Vt.  

Rev. Elderkin J. Boardman was born in Bethel, Vermont, on June 1, 1791. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1815 and later became a student of theology, graduating from the Andover Theological Seminary in 1820. Boardman was one of the first outspoken abolitionists in Vermont.

Addressing the Randolph Female Anti-Slavery Society on June 26, 1838, Boardman refuted the charge of religious fanaticism levied against abolitionists as merely a pretense to oppose a policy of immediate abolition:

Religion is now the same that it ever has been. Human nature is the same. And in the same circumstances, we always expect to see the same results. Whenever religion is arrayed against the leading sins and corruptions of the age, it is called fanaticism by the wicked, and its advocates, the disturbers of the peace, the injurious to society. We see an instance of this in our own times, and country; in which religion is directed against the abominations of slavery under the form of abolition societies.

Later, Boardman argued for the righteousness of the abolitionist movement, saying:

“The Zeal of the Bigot”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“My soul has drifted down the stream”: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

This month we focus on three heavily illustrated works found in the April release of American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society.


The New York and Brooklyn Bridge Illustrated (1883)

Interspersed with many illustrations, this pamphlet describes the Brooklyn Bridge from its first conception, to its construction, to its opening in May of 1883. There is no doubt that its creation was an astonishing achievement, and the writer, using superlatives generously, returns to this fact often as he recounts the history. He writes, “The details of constructing the towers have been performed under the eyes of all Brooklyn people. Since the tower of Babel and the great pyramid of Egypt, there have been no more massive structures.”

The construction took its toll, especially on the workers. Caissons—large, bottomless wooden boxes into which compressed air was pumped to keep out water—were dangerous places for the laborers who dug out mud and bedrock until they had a solid footing into which concrete was poured:

In the New York caisson the pressure of air at the last was equal to 35 pounds to the square inch. Breathing was a labor, and labor extremely exhausting. Yet brave men subjected themselves to physical suffering of this sort day after day, that the great work might go on, until in many cases nervous disease and paralysis would follow.

The writer refers to the illustrations as “photographs [that] were redrawn by careful, trained artists, and their drawings reproduced and reduced to the present size by photo engraving.” Here are several examples:

“My soul has drifted down the stream”: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

“The Disagreeable Practice of Shaving”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The April release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a history of the French and Indian War, a narrative of a global circumnavigation, and the diary of 19-year-old George Washington while traveling to Barbados.


The History of the Late War in North-America, and the Islands of the West-Indies, Including the Campaigns of MDCCLXIII and MDCCLXIV against His Majesty's Indian Enemies (1772)

By Thomas Mante

Thomas Mante was a historian and officer in the English army. He was also a spy for the French government. Mante was recruited by Jean-Charles-Adolphe Grant de Blairfindy in 1769 and became involved in British intelligence in the 1770s. He operated as a double agent until 1774 when the British, then aware of his disloyalty, ceased to pay him. His history of the French and Indian War is nearly as dramatic as was his life. Recounting the 1759 naval bombardment of French-held Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, Monte wrote:

“The Disagreeable Practice of Shaving”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

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