American Pamphlets


“Bustle in the House of Wisdom:” The Life and Crimes of Vermont Congressman Matthew Lyon

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Multiple choice: You’re Matthew Lyon, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1801. On the occasion of your fifty-second birthday, you’re asked what your most enduring legacy will be, that for which you’ll be remembered in two hundred years.  Which of the following answers do you choose?

  1. You were the first person convicted for violating the Sedition Act of 1798, when you accused President John Adams in print of “ridiculous pomp,” among other things.
  2. You were the first (and only) member of Congress to be reelected while imprisoned (for the above infraction).
  3. You were the first member of Congress charged with “gross indecency” and were repeatedly threatened with expulsion from office, for spitting in the face of a fellow member of Congress, and for the physical violence that ensued.
  4. You cast the deciding Congressional vote to elect Thomas Jefferson as President during the Election of 1800

With perfect hindsight from the twenty-first century, the election of Thomas Jefferson looms large in the list above, but all of these choices are notable for their impact on the course of early American history. Matthew Lyon was an Irish immigrant, an entrepreneur, and an (allegedly) disgraced Revolutionary War officer who served with Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys. Lyon was a vehement anti-Federalist. The Federalists believed in a strong central government, whereas Lyon and his fellow Democratic-Republicans feared monarchy and favored states’ rights instead.

“Bustle in the House of Wisdom:” The Life and Crimes of Vermont Congressman Matthew Lyon

Casting Light on the Bomb-Throwers: Revisiting Chicago’s 1886 Haymarket Riot and Its Social Fallout

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There’s an ironic twist in the contents of Chicago’s Sunday Inter Ocean newspaper for October 10, 1886, that wouldn’t have been apparent to its readers of that day. Much of the issue was devoted to transcribing the 5-1/2 hour courtroom speech of Albert Parsons, defending himself and seven of his anarchist compatriots against the death penalty for their alleged complicity in the Haymarket Riot of May 4, 1886.

The last act in the great anarchist drama was played yesterday, at least so far as Cook County is concerned. Only the curtain of the gallows needs to be rang down and the drama is ended. So, as the courtroom filled when the doors were opened at 9:45, the specter of death seemed to have entered before them. The vision of eight dangling forms seemed to fill the air with its unwholesome presence.

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Casting Light on the Bomb-Throwers: Revisiting Chicago’s 1886 Haymarket Riot and Its Social Fallout

Celebrating the Remarkable Life and Work of Frederick Douglass through America’s Historical Imprints

This year’s Black History Month marks 200 years since the birth of Frederick Douglass, one of the most influential Americans of the 19th century. While America’s Historical Newspapers includes The North Star, the forceful anti-slavery newspaper Douglass began publishing in Rochester, New York, in 1847, America’s Historical Imprints contains a wealth of primary source material recording, remembering, and celebrating his remarkable life and work.


 

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In his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, found in Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia, Frederick writes of his parents.

My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Bailey, both colored, and quite dark. My mother was of a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather.

My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage. The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing; the means to knowing was withheld from me. My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant – before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age.

He continues, describing his relationship with his mother:

Celebrating the Remarkable Life and Work of Frederick Douglass through America’s Historical Imprints

Modern Research: A Conversation with Professor Paul Finkelman [VIDEO]

Readex had the opportunity to sit down with Paul Finkelman, a leading authority on American legal history, race relations and religious freedom, to discuss the importance of primary documents in his work as a scholar and professor. Finkelman-book cover.jpgNow the President of Gratz College, Finkelman has taught law and history courses at more than a dozen intuitions. He is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, which will be published this month by Harvard University Press. 

In our discussion, Finkelman compared his work flow to that of scholars in decades past, noting how the online availability of primary sources not only fosters faster work, but also unlocks new findings in ways never before possible. Watch the highlights of our interview to learn how digital resources like the U.S. Congressional Serial Set and American Pamphlets can help students discover historical connections and energize their research.

 

 

Contact us for more information about Readex digital collections for classroom and research use

Modern Research: A Conversation with Professor Paul Finkelman [VIDEO]

Seductive Spies, a Quest for Friendly Fumes, and a Lethal Love Triangle: Readex Report (October 2017)

In this issue: feminine charms reveal Civil War strategies; a dismembered body linked to a racially charged love triangle; and the dicey dealings of early American anesthesiologists.


Two Women Who Spied During the American Civil War: Going Undercover with Belle Boyd and Pauline Cushman in the Archive of Americana

Bruce D. Roberts, author of Clipper Ship Sailing Cards

Two Women 1b.jpgIn July 1861—just three months after the bombardment of Fort Sumter—unabashed Southern sympathizer Rose O’Neal Greenhow of Washington, D.C., was already engaged in espionage on behalf of the Confederacy. Well-placed in Washington society—and adept at bleeding information from the many men who found her attractive—Greenhow learned that Union troops under General Irvin McDowell would attack Rebel forces in Manassas, Virginia, within days... > Full Story

Seductive Spies, a Quest for Friendly Fumes, and a Lethal Love Triangle: Readex Report (October 2017)

Serve It Up: Works on Cookery and Household Management in America’s Historical Imprints

3a30207r.jpgAmerica’s Historical Imprints features dozens of valuable books on cookery and household management which provide essential insight into the diet and etiquette of earlier times. Contemporary readers may find some of the recipes disconcerting although advocates of the nose-to-tail movement should applaud the economy of our forebearers. They wasted little when slaughtering animals, making use of lungs, brains, thyroid glands, heads and other parts which are not so widely regarded as desirable now.

 


 

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The experienced English housekeeper, for the use and ease of ladies, housekeepers, cooks, etc. Written purely from practice, and dedicated to the Hon. Lady Elizabeth Warburton. Whom the author lately served as housekeeper: consisting of near nine hundred original receipts, most of which never appeared in print (1801)

By Elizabeth Raffald

Turtle was a popular dish in earlier times. Most of the cookbooks include instructions for preparing them. Here are excerpts from the elaborate recipe Raffald provides:

To dress a TURTLE of a hundred weight

Serve It Up: Works on Cookery and Household Management in America’s Historical Imprints

Top Ten: The Most Popular Readex Blog Posts Published in 2016

Here are the most-read posts published on the Readex Blog during 2016:

180px-Hubbardton-Battlefield-Monument sm.jpg1. “My knees then smote one against the other”: Highlights from Supplement to Early American Imprints, Shaw-Shoemaker

This month’s release of new material in the Early American Imprints Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society includes a biographical account of a young American rebel who was wounded... More

Elmira%20barrel sm c2.jpg2. Captured! Firsthand Accounts of Prisoners of War from The American Civil War Collection

Opinions on prisoners of war and prisoner exchanges have dominated recent news cycles. The June release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian... More

Top Ten: The Most Popular Readex Blog Posts Published in 2016

“Intensifying the life of all”: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

After a final release in February of nearly 600 additional pamphlets from the New-York Historical Society, American Pamphlets, 1820-1922, is now complete. This unique treasure trove of more than 25,000 catalogued pamphlets embraces a vast number of subjects and purposes, many of which are strikingly illustrated. Newly digitized pamphlets in this last release include a 19th-century promotion for an electric cure-all device, an illustrated account of Boston in the late 21st century, and photographs of a steamship line at the dawn of the 20th century. 


Dr. Bryan's Electro-Voltaic and Magnetic Belts and Appliances for Imbuing the Human Organism with New Life, Health, and Strength (1876)

American Pamphlets is rich in works promoting health-giving treatments, tonics, and resorts. The use of electricity to address myriad complaints was a popular remedy in the 19th century. In this illustrated pamphlet, featuring testimonials from physicians and patients alike, Dr. Bryan makes an all-out case for his patented device:  

“Intensifying the life of all”: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

American Mineral Waters, Resorts and Mad Houses: Physical and Mental Health Concerns in 19th-Century Pamphlets

The January release of American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society includes several works addressing the physical and mental health concerns of 19th-century Americans. Among these are a measured evaluation of the efficacy of the mineral waters at the White Sulphur Springs of West Virginia, an assessment of the winter resorts physicians might choose to recommend to their patients, and a first-hand review of the care of mentally ill people. 


Virginia White Sulphur Springs with the analysis of its waters, the diseases to which they are applicable, and some account of society and its amusements at the Springs (1869) 

By J. J. Moorman, Physician to the White Sulphur Springs; Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Hygiene in the Washington University, Baltimore; Member of the Baltimore Medical Association, &c.  

Doctor Moorman takes care not to promise definite results for specific complaints as a result of taking the waters at White Sulphur Springs because “such certificates, while they might be serviceable in some cases, would nevertheless, be liable to mislead from the want of proper and scientific discrimination as to the precise nature of the cases given.” However, he is most enthusiastic about the generally beneficial aspects of the waters and the climate: 

American Mineral Waters, Resorts and Mad Houses: Physical and Mental Health Concerns in 19th-Century Pamphlets

Educated Fleas, Health-Giving Beer, and Sweet-Smelling Elephants: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

The December release of the New-York Historical Society’s American Pamphlets includes a publication by the inventor of the flea circus (with descriptions of more than 15 individual acts), a glossy promotional pamphlet from a 19th-century beer brewery, which offers a room-by-room tour of their Manhattan plant, and a brief book about elephants with striking engravings.


The history of the flea; with notes, observations and amusing anecdotes. By L. Bertolotto, the original inventor of the exhibition of educated fleas (1876)

 

Legs have I, and never walk,

I backbite all, but never talk.

Mr. Bertolotto lived in London where he claims he was the first to exhibit what came to be known as a flea circus. This is his account of how he manipulated the fleas into unusual behavior and developed that “invention” into his exhibition of their performances for many of the crowned heads of Europe. Apparently, it was a sensation. He begins with a scientific examination of the insect:

Pulex, the Flea, in Zoology, a genus of insects belonging to the order of Aptera. It has two eyes, and six feet, fitted for leaping, the feelers are like threads, the rostrum is inflected, setaceous, armed with a sting, and the belly is compressed.

He notes that: 

Educated Fleas, Health-Giving Beer, and Sweet-Smelling Elephants: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

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