Syracuse New York and Auburn: William T. Hamilton / Miller, Orton and Muiligan [sic], 1856. First edition. 8vo; 409pp; + 6pp. ads for other publications by Miller, Orton & Mulligan, (including a quote from Lydia Maria Child urging reading ARCHY MOORE, THE WHITE SLAVE by Richard Hildreth, one by Fanny Fern praising MY BONDAGE AND MY FREEDOM, By Frederick Douglass, TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE by Solomon Nothrop, a temperance tract and another title, LIVES OF JUDGES, INFAMOUS AS TOOLS OF TYRANNY) frontispiece, engraved half-title, and 2 other plates. Green blindstamped publisher's cloth with gilt-stamped spine, binding signed in blind on back panel join, "Davies" "& Hand", professionally rebacked, endpapers rehinged; spine skewed, corners bumped, scattered foxing or smudging throughout text, former owner's name on front free endpaper, an acceptable copy housed in custom-made cloth clamshell box.
This is the first edition of the extraordinary slave narrative of Peter Still, kidnapped from his home in New Jersey as a young child and made a slave in Kentucky and Alabama for forty years. Kate Pickard, a teacher at the Female Seminary of Tuscumbia, Alabama, where Peter Still was employed, has written the narrative. Still finally, at age fifty, devised a plan of escape by being purchased by the southern Jewish merchants Isaac and Joseph Friedman. The Friedman's went north and Peter was able to self-redeem his freedom with money the Friedman brothers paid him for his work. Peter Still then returned to the south for his wife and children. His family escaped with the help of Seth Concklin, a white abolitionist, who was captured by slave hunters in the north and, while being taken south, he was either killed or committed suicide at the hopelessness of his plight. Dr. William Furness' appendix is an account of Concklin's life. This slave narrative begins with the Still's kidnapping and, although a serious and traumatizing story, it was also read as an exciting adventure story. It can also be read as a history of the contribution of Jews to the Abolition movement. An unusual feature of the work is explicit mention of miscegenation between white and black - a completely taboo subject at the time. This is a slave narrative of the greatest detail and scope, written from Peter Still's account by a woman of ability who had close knowledge of the subject. Because it is skillfully written, with the use of dialogue, it appears to be a novel. It was so regarded by Wright (II, 1893), but it is not. In fact, correspondence by Peter Still detailing his efforts to purchase his wife's freedom, his account book, and other papers are located at Rutgers and at the Library of Congress. No less a respected figure in the American abolition movement than the Rev. Samuel J. May has written a persuasive argument for reading this account of the horrors of slavery and the generosity of two Jewish merchants. Reprinted by the Negro Publication Society of American in 1941 and the Jewish Publication Society of America in 1970 with an introductory essay on Jews in the anti-slavery movement by Maxwell Whiteman. Blockson 9601 and 9603 respectively. Dumond, Bibliography of Antislavery in America, p. 94. Jackson, A History of Afro-American Literature, I, p. 153. Sabin 62614. Blockson 9602. Item #9598