Boston: Redding and Company, 1855. First edition. 91 pages. Disbound but with contents holding tight. All edges speckled. Internally a tight, unmarked, and fresh copy with none of the toning found in imprints of this period. Chickering's important argument on the illegality of slavery in the U.S. last appeared at auction in 1976, and has become scarce both institutionally and in the trade.
A political economist with a degree from Harvard, Chickering committed his published works to the study of immigration, slavery, and race in the young nation. His Letter Addressed to the President is an outlined legal argument about the illegality of slavery in the U.S., based both upon its adoption and reliance on British Common Law precedents as well as on the U.S.'s own Constitution. He further argues that in a nation where sovereignty is derived from the people, that the expansion of that people to include everyone leads to improvements for all citizens. "Those who have been clothed with power are charged to defend and maintain the rights of each and every one, under a system of regulated Liberty -- uninfluenced by ephemeral majorities, or by the claims or pretended claims of partisans -- not favoring the rich or the poor, those in office or those out of office, the North or the South...knowing nothing in civil matters except 'our country, our whole country.' Let it not be supposed that we wish harm to the interest of slave holders; we would promote them, by securing the rights of the whole people." While the larger body of the open letter contains great legal and historical detail in support of his argument, Chickering concludes with a concise and powerful outline of his larger position that the U.S. government's allowance of slavery in the South, and that a human's right to humanity differing across state lines, is "contrary to the charge of our National Sovereignty of Freedom, renders the United States a slave agency, and, as such, is against the Law and against the Constitution of the United States."
Sabin 40262. Afro-Americana 5795. Fine (Item #2722)