Buffalo: Geo. H. Derby and Co., 1851. First Edition. Original publisher's cloth binding stamped in blind with gilt to spine. Gentle shelfwear to extremities; front hinge tender but holding. Collates xxiii, 480, : complete, including engraved frontis. Front signature a bit loose; slight hints of foxing and offsetting as is usual in an American imprint of this period. Else an internally neat copy. With an introduction by Lydia Sigourney, one of the first professional women poets in the U.S. Quite rare in the trade, Noble Deeds last appeared at auction in 1989, with this present copy as the only one currently on the market.
"Facts are more sublime than fictions; and American women have actually performed all the good, and grand, and glorious deeds which the honest and judicious novelist dares ascribe to the female sex." So begins this collection of biographies on major female leaders in U.S. history. Among the worthies included in Noble Deeds are well known figures such as Martha Washington and Dorothea Dix, as well as a wider array of unsung women who changed the nation: mothers and daughters of Revolutionary War heros, women of the Mohawk tribe, and California women who ventured to new territories. In her introduction to the book, poet Lydia Sigourney explains the rationale for including known and unknown women. "The advantages of a Biography are obvious and great. To the weight of precept it adds the force and efficacy of example...If all true greatness should be estimated by its tendencies, and by the good it performs, it is peculiarly desirable that a woman's claims to distinction should thus be judged and rewarded. In this young western world, her agency has been admitted." For Sigourney, an abolitionist, activist on behalf of women and Native Americans, and educator, women from high and low strata must be given their due. An important and scarce work giving readers a rich list of American women who shaped the republic's foundations.
Feminist Companion to Literature in English. Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the US. Near Fine (Item #2472)