Boston: Garrison and Knapp, 1832. First Edition. Wrappers. 1st edition of the founding document in the Anti–Slavery movement. Original, sewn, tan, printed wrappers, untrimmed and unrepaired. A few smudges to front cover, both covers a little creased, spots to title page, and some stains, else very good, complete, untouched, and unrepaired. Scarce, and not only scarce (more so in original wrappers) but of the utmost importance. Only 2 copies have sold at auction in the last 100 years (one of them without the wrappers). Rare Book Hub shows 7 more in bookseller’s catalogs (some without wrappers) also looking back 100 years, and we found one more, but do not get too excited, it's not that rare or it wouldn’t be $4,000. Nonetheless, if you are a librarian or collector who is interested in Black Americana and do not have this book, buying ours should be irresistible. Collation: octavo. 16pp. References: Sabin 52655n. LCP 6496. AI 13659. Not in Work. Not in Blockson. Very good. Item #922
In announcing the aims and plan for the Society, this constitution proclaims:
“We, the undersigned, hold that every person, of full age and sane mind, has a right to immediate freedom from personal bondage of whatsoever kind. We hold that whoever retains his fellow man in bondage, is guilty of a grievous wrong. We hold that a mere difference of complexion is no reason why any man should be deprived of his natural rights, or subjected to any political disability…"
The text concludes:
"To do away the horrors of slavery, and prevent such ravages as are here depicted, we do most earnestly invite the co-operation of our fellow citizens; and we can hardly conceive how any one is entitled to the name of a philanthropist or of a Christian, who is either ashamed or afraid thus to show himself A Friend to His Country and A Friend to the Black Man.” –Arnold Buffum, President. Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Secretary.
The New–England Anti–Slavery Society was William Lloyd Garrison’s forerunner of his American Anti–Slavery Society, the largest, and most influential, organization opposing slavery up to the Civil War, and Garrison was identified as “the chief apostle” of abolitionism by no less than Frederick Douglass himself. Garrison began by editing The Liberator (an anti–slavery newspaper) in 1831, when the topic was stickier than a campfire marshmallow. In 1832 he founded The Abolitionist Anti–Slavery Society of New England and issued their Constitution (our item). In 1833 he renamed it the Anti–Slavery Society and began publishing a monthly magazine in 1835. But it was in this Constitution that be first pressed free Americans to identify with, and to understand, the idea that, though slavery is the unequaled horror, in any life filled with violence, poverty, ignorance, monotony, pain, hopelessness, and bigotry, we are all brothers and sisters because such a life will crush your soul no matter what color you are.
And one more thing about slavery. The difference between a slave and a citizen is that slaves are subject to their masters while citizens are subject to the laws. It may be that a master is very gentle, and the law is very harsh, but that changes nothing. There is always a difference between caprice and rules.