American Slavery and Colour.

First published in 1857, this second edition appears to have been hastily prepared by the author in 1861 as the Civil War gained momentum. Not found in the first edition, this edition includes brief prefatory changes, a new one-page Postscript, and three extra appendix pages to provide updates on the Dred Scott case and South Carolina’s secession declaration. Chamber’s second edition is scarce, likely due to low sales during the rapidly changing wartime period. Contemporary readers undoubtedly preferred up-to-date news on the War over a retrospective look at American slavery history.

“William Chambers was well known in Scotland as an author and publisher of low-priced journals and books for the middle and lower classes ... A large portion of American Slavery and Colour was devoted to a review of the historical facts concerning slavery in the United States, quotations from American newspapers and periodicals, and speeches of public men. This book was not written according to the accepted formula for travel accounts but was, in a sense, a sequel to his earlier book, Things as They Are in America, which was the actual record of his trip to the United States in 1853. Except for Covington, Kentucky, and Richmond, Virginia, Chambers saw little of the South. Therefore, this book expresses the author’s views on slavery, but it does not represent firsthand information. He ridiculed the part of the pro-slavery argument which declared that slavery conferred a spiritual benefit on its victims. On the other hand, he believed that the abolitionists themselves were hypocrites. Chambers admired the works of Frederick Law Olmsted, especially his Journey in the Seaboard Slave States. One of his sources was George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South (Richmond, 1854). For statistics he relied on Henry Chase and Charles W. Sanborn, The North and The South, A Statistical View of Conditions of the Free and Slave States (Boston, 1856).” (Clark)

Description: American Slavery and Colour.

London: W. & R.Chambers and New York: Dix and Edwards, 1861. Octavo.  Frontis. color map of the free and slave states, [3], 220, [1, advert.]pp. Publisher’s gilt and blind stamped cloth rubbed and soiled. Internally, sound and clean.


Sabin 11806 (first ed.) Clark 451 (first ed.). Dumond, p35. LCP, Afro-Americana 2150.

Price: $350.00

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