LETTERS ON AMERICAN SLAVERY, ADDRESSED TO MR. THOMAS RANKIN, MERCHANT AT MIDDLEBROOK, AUGUSTA CO., VA.

Newburyport: Published by Charles Whipple, 1836. 118pp. plus [1]p. of advertisements. 18mo. Publisher's green cloth with blind stamping of vines, title label on front board. Boards lightly worn, faint scrape to rear board, corners bumped, spine ends frayed. Two-inch tear to lower edge of front free endpaper; contemporary ownership signature of Wells M. Gaylord of Utica, New York on front flyleaf. Occasional light foxing. Very good. Item #WRCAM55244

Second edition of Rankin's influential work against slavery. As Rankin explains in the Preface, "[t]he following letters were originally designed for the benefit of the Brother to whom they were addressed. For his convenience they were inserted in the Castigator [a Ripley, Ohio newspaper], and by that means were first brought to public view." John Rankin (1793-1886) was a Presbyterian minister and abolitionist originally from Tennessee. His abolitionist views forced his departure from Tennessee and he eventually settled in Ripley, Ohio. In 1824 he discovered that his brother Thomas had purchased slaves, and was determined to convince him otherwise through a series of letters that he also published in the local paper. Apparently the letters were successful, as Thomas moved to Ohio in 1827 and freed his slaves. The letters were reprinted in Isaac Knapp and William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper THE LIBERATOR in 1826, then published as a book by Knapp and Garrison in 1833, and were some of the first explicitly anti-slavery arguments written west of the Appalachians. In no time, LETTERS ON SLAVERY became standard reading for abolitionists throughout the United States. Garrison called Rankin his "anti-slavery father; his book on slavery was the cause of my entering the anti-slavery conflict" (quoted in Hagedorn, p.58). In addition to preaching, speaking, and writing, Rankin was also one of Ohio's first and most active "conductors" on the Underground Railroad. From 1822 to 1865, Rankin, along with his wife and children, assisted thousands of escaped slaves. Located on the Ohio River, John Rankin's home (and Ripley, Ohio) was considered one of the first stations on this particular branch of the Railroad. Harriet Beecher Stowe memorialized Rankin in UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, basing the character of Eliza on Rankin's account of a woman who stayed at his home after crossing the frozen Ohio River with her child. This is the stated second edition published by Charles Whipple in Newburyport; the first was issued by Knapp and Garrison in Boston. While not a formal partner, fellow abolitionist Charles Whipple worked with, and published several works that first appeared from, Knapp and Garrison. In the advertisement page in this volume, Whipple lists for sale: "MRS. CHILD'S ANTI-SLAVERY CATECHISM...LECTURES ON SLAVERY AND ITS REMEDY, by Rev. A.A. Phelps...Anti-Slavery Hymns, Cards, and Handbills, in great variety. Subscriptions received as above, for the NEW YORK EVANGELIST, EMANCIPATOR, HUMAN RIGHTS, CONCORD HERALD OF FREEDOM, BOSTON LIBERATOR, NEW ENGLAND SPECTATOR, and ANTI-SLAVERY QUARTERLY MAGAZINE." An attractive copy of a vital work in the evolution of abolitionism. HOWES R62. SABIN 67882. AMERICAN IMPRINTS 39838. Amy Hagedorn, BEYOND THE RIVER: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE HEROES OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002).

Price: $1,250.00

A Tennessean Turned Underground Railroad Conductor