The Anti-Slavery Cause in America and its Martyrs
London: A.W. Bennett, 1863.
London: A.W. Bennett, 1863. First edition. Contemporary roan over pebbled boards with gilt to spine. All edges marbled. Marbled endpapers. Measuring 180 x 115mm and collating vii, [1, blank], 168: complete. A square, firm copy with scuffing to spine and corners. Light scattered foxing to preliminary and terminal leaves, including title, else fresh and unmarked internally. A scarce trans-Atlantic abolitionist tract, OCLC reports only 17 copies at libraries. Excepting the present copy, it last appeared at auction in 1986.
Scottish philanthropist and organizer Eliza Wigham was among the most intersectional of activists in her century. Recognizing that the intimate connections among gender, race, education, economics, and political representation had global implications, she formed an international network of collaborators who included English prison reformer Elizabeth Fry and American abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. The present work is a key example of her efforts, as it critiques Britain's neutral stance in the Civil War, as well as the aristocracy's tendency to privately side with the Confederacy. Indeed, the fact that the U.S. inherited slavery from Britain implicated the older nation in the current situation. In acknowledging the deep and problematic threads of slavery and racism woven into the fabric of the younger nation, Wigham suggests that British subjects have a responsibility not to strengthen but rather to help unravel them. "It is very important to bear in mind the character of Slavery, in order to estimate the urgency of the call which the Abolitionists felt bound to obey, 'to cry aloud and spare not.' It is also important to remember the intimate connexion of Slavery within the whole social, religious, and political organization of America, in order to rightly appreciate the courage of those who began to assail it...may all eyes that rest on these pages be stimulated to a strong determination to do all that in them lies to guard our beloved country from any action, social or political, which may tend to ally her with a Confederacy for having its corner stone American Slavery, the deadly enemy." With chapters on the history of slavery in North America, biographies of key activists and descriptions of their contributions, and information on the current status of the movement in wartime. (Item #5805)