Boston: Allen & Ticknor, 1833. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding, with a bit of rubbing to extremities and slight cocking to spine. Textblock tight. Completely unrestored. Ownership stamps of Isaac Clark to front pastedown. Trivial foxing throughout, largely confined to preliminary and terminal leaves. Collating , 232: complete, including frontis, oft-missing errata tipped in between the title and dedication leaves, and the page 16 illustration of the equipment used in Middle Passage confinement. A landmark work of intersectional activism, produced in a small run and funded by the author, which rarely turns up in collectible condition. The present is the only first edition copy on the market.
"When Lydia Maria Child issued her Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans, she had been enjoying dizzying popularity for almost a decade. Child had burst upon the literary scene at the age of twenty-two, with her novel Hobomok, whose double violation of the taboos against miscegenation and divorce had simultaneously scandalized and titillated her contemporaries...North American Review ranked her highest among women writers of the day, and the most prestigious publishers vied for her favor" (Karcher). This work of overt social activism made sense for a writer with an elevated platform. She now had the ability to voice her views about the stories of women and of enslaved people being intertwined, with both groups defined by white men "in terms of ownership" whose positions within "economic transaction reveal the perversion of paternity into the profits of bondage" and the denial of human dignity (Sanchez-Eppler). Within the work, Child forces her readers to confront the horrors of the Middle Passage and the ongoing violence of hereditary chattel slavery; but she does not only take the South to task. The North, too, participates in systemic racism; and she argues that equality can only come by ending miscegenation laws, stopping the segregation of public spaces such as churches, schools, theaters, and transportation, providing access to education and employment, and addressing all levels of racist attitudes. Outrage among white readers was loud and widespread, and some predicted the end of Child's career. The Boston Athenaeum revoked her library card to prevent future research; additionally, "her Boston benefactors, scared off by their association with a newly born radical abandoned her, and family and friends who did not share her abolitionists stance avoided her" (Bergren). Yet her work sparked among activists a new dialogue about abolition and white supremacy; and it drew a number of influential people including Charles Sumner and Wendell Phillips to a cause that would continue to build strength. "From this point on, Child's career was defined by her participation in the anti-slavery movement" (Bergren).
BAL 3116. Ticknor & Fields One Hundred 7. Sabin 12711. (Item #4433)