David M. Lesser

  • Showing all 24 results

book (2)

MANUSCRIPT PETITION IN REGARD TO CAPT. F.B. GURLEY – 4TH ALA. CAV

General McCook Murder Trial] Royce, M.S. 4to. Written in ink, and signed at the end by Royce, on the verso of a single leaf. Several small holes [text unaffected], a few closed tears [two archival tape repairs]. Good+. This unusual, insightful document illuminates the laws of war applicable during the bitter American Conflict. Royce's Petition seeking justice for Gurley is directed to the Confederate Commission of Exchange. Its author, Confederate Captain Moses Strong Royce, was captured in Tennessee and imprisoned at Nashville. His cell-mate, Captain Frank R. Gurley, had allegedly murdered Union General Robert McCook of Ohio, near Huntsville, Alabama, in August 1862. In October 1863 Gurley was captured and charged with the murder. Gurley, Union officials claimed, was a guerrilla who shot McCook while the General was lying in an ambulance. Southerners claimed that Gurley was not a guerrilla, but rather a regular soldier in the Confederacy's 4th Alabama Cavalry who killed McCook according to the laws of war. The pages of Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper fanned the flames, claiming that guerrillas or lawless Confederate cavalrymen caused the general's death; feelings ran high. "US General Grant wrote CS General Hardee in December of 1863 and said that although Gurley was a member of the Confederate army, that did not preclude him from being tried for having committed a foul murder" [online Huntsville-Madison County Public Library essay, 'Frank B. Gurley's 1866 Diary']. Royce advises that he escaped from prison "on the 1st of March." War Department Records claim Royce was a still a prisoner at Nashville on April 6, 1864. That Record doubtless relied on outdated information. Having escaped in March 1864. Royce pleads Captain Gurley's case. "He was confined in a cell for sixty-eight days and allowed only about one hour a day for exercise and was put upon trial for the killing of Genl. McCook. He was obliged to employ counsel to defend himself at an expense of 2500 dollars in greenbacks. The evidence produced completely exonerated him of anything like MURDER, and the argument of his counsel was a complete vindication of his RIGHT as a soldier and an officer to do all that he did in bringing Genl. McCook to his death. When the trial was nearly ended four communications by flag of truce were sent to the court and were there read - one from Lt. Col. Hambrick, one from Genl. Forrest, one from Genl. Hardee and one from Genl. Johnston," assuring that Gurley was not a guerrilla but a duly enrolled member of the Confederate military forces. Nevertheless Gurley was found guilty and sentenced to death. [original italics are printed here in capital letters.] "The undersigned believes that if an effort were to be made by the Confederate Commission of Exchange to have Capt. Gurley exchanged the Federal authorities would immediately send him forward for that purpose, and as a friend of Capt. Gurley the undersigned respectfully requests General Johnston to use his influence in procuring the exchange of Capt. Gurley. Respectfully submitted, M. S. Royce." Even after the War's ending, the dispute continued. Gurley, having been released from prison in an administrative snafu, was re-arrested, charged, but finally released and placed on parole in April 1866.
book (2)

LETTER SIGNED TO HORATIO SEYMOUR, MAY 1868, URGING THE SELECTION OF GENERAL WINFIELD SCOTT HANCOCK AS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT

Walker, Robert J. [4] pp. Single sheet, folded to 6-3/4" x 9-7/8." Entirely in neat ink manuscript, signed in ink by Walker [a few smudges]. Very Good. Marked "Confidential" in upper left corner. Robert J. Walker [1801-1869] was a Democratic politician, lawyer, economist, U.S. Senator from Mississippi, and President Polk's Secretary of the Treasury. He established the Independent Treasury System and wrote the Walker Tariff. Despite his Mississippi connection, he remained loyal to the Union as a War Democrat. Walker supports Hancock as the best candidate to dismantle Congressional Reconstruction. His Letter to Seymour-- who would, ironically, be chosen in July 1868 as the Democrats' presidential nominee-- explains Walker's opposition to the Radical Republican agenda. "The great contest between a written Constitution and Congressional despotism will be decided by the success or failure of the Democratic party in the coming Presidential conflict." Hancock, devoted to the rule of law, is the Democrats' perfect candidate. "Whilst a soldier during the late unfortunate Rebellion, he has shown a fixed and unalterable affection for the Civil Liberties secured to every American by the Constitution." As a post-War military commander, "he submitted himself IN PERSON to the jurisdiction of a civil tribunal," when Mary Surratt sought release from prison. Reluctantly accepting the President's call to command "two sovereign and independent parts of the Union," he promised, "in an order that will live forever, that the civil rights secured to us by the Constitution were still the heritage of the American people." [capitals are underlined in original.].
TO THE HONORABLE THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES

TO THE HONORABLE THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED

Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League Caption title, as issued. 7, [1 blank] pp. Signed and dated at the end in type: "William Nesbit, Joseph C. Bustill, William D. Forten, On behalf of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League. Feby. 20th, 1866." Stitched, light margin toning, several contemporary manuscript corrections. Detailed contemporary pencil essay on the League and its work on bottom of page 7 and all of the final blank. Very Good. This pamphlet, scarce in any form, is rendered unique by the interesting pencil essay appearing at the end. Issuing during one of America's most turbulent eras, it is a powerful assertion, by courageous and politically sophisticated black Pennsylvanians, of their entitlement to equal rights in all areas of American life. This Memorial was presented to Congress a month before passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, declaring Negroes citizens, nullifying newly enacted southern Black Codes, and guaranteeing their equal rights. President Johnson vetoed it, but it became law when Congress overrode him. The League "stands pledged to leave no means untried to regain those rights of which we, citizens of the United States and citizens of Pennsylvania have been so cruelly and unjustifiably deprived. This color which mantles our cheeks and of which we may justly feel proud, has subjected us to every species of outrage, persecution and disfranchisement, but has never been sullied by covering the brow of a single TRAITOR." The League's representatives-- Nesbit, Bustill, and Forten-- were Pennsylvania black men of determination and accomplishment, long active in the civil rights and anti-slavery movements. Nesbit would vigorously lobby to adopt the Fourteenth Amendment; Bustill, a school teacher, had been a conductor on the Underground Railroad; Forten, a descendant of Philadelphia black activists and leader of the State Equal Rights League, was one of Pennsylvania's most politically influential black Republicans. The pamphlet emphasizes the Constitution's guarantee of a republican form of government for every State in the Union. Such a government is utterly inconsistent with denial of the suffrage. The League urges Congress to enact the guarantees that became the Civil Rights Act, and the 14th and 15th Constitutional amendments. "We ask that there be incorporated in the Constitution an article which will prevent any legislation. against any portion of the civilized inhabitants on account of race or color; and we ask further, that all such legislation as now exists disfranchising us on that account, be declared VOID, because of its own unconstitutionality -- being anti-republican in character." An anonymous manuscript essay, written in pencil on the bottom of page 7 and all of the final blank, reports on the "good work" of the League, its members "daily using every effort to bring before the Congress the great necessity of their doing right." The author observes that "the Republican Party must be incalculably benefitted by extending to the Negro the right of Franchise in every State in this Union." Indeed, "Hon Chas Sumner presented this to the Senate & read some of the strongest points. And in the House it was presented by Hon Thadeous Stevens of Pa." LCP 7625. OCLC 31434647 [7] as of May 2020.
book (2)

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OF ALABAMA, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, JULY 25, 1865. FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENABLING THOSE WHO DESIRE TO APPLY FOR PARDON, TO DO SO WITH AS LITTLE DELAY AS POSSIBLE, THEY WILL DO WELL TO NOTICE THE FOLLOWING POINTS IN THEIR APPLICATIONS.

Provisional Governor of Alabama, Lewis E. Parsons Printed broadside, signed in type at the end by Parsons as Provisional Governor, listing twelve "points" for applicants' consideration. One small spot, light old folds, Very Good plus. Among the inquiries are: "Have you served on any 'vigilance committee' during the war, before which persons charged with disloyalty to the Confederate States have been examined or tried?" "Has any person been shot or hung by your order for real or supposed disloyalty to the Confederate States?" "Have you shot or hung, or aided in shooting or hanging any person for real or supposed disloyalty to the Confederate States?" "Have you ordered or been engaged in hunting any one with dogs, who was disloyal to the Confederate States, or supposed to be?" "Were you in favor of the so-called ordinance of secession at the time it was passed on the 11th day of January, 1861?" Parsons, born in New York State, moved to Alabama as a young man and practiced law in Talladega. He served, by appointment of President Johnson, as Alabama's Provisional Governor from June until mid-December 1865. During the War he had been a Confederate Lieutenant. Governor Parsons was was responsible for initiating Alabama's first steps toward Reconstruction by eliminating Alabama's laws pertaining to slavery, and calling a constitutional convention. Hummel 151 [1-NcD].
book (2)

DUPLICATE COPY OF THE SOUVENIR FROM THE AFRO- AMERICAN LEAGUE OF TENNESSEE TO HON. JAMES M. ASHLEY OF OHIO. EDITED BY BENJAMIN W. ARNETT, ONE OF THE BISHOPS OF THE A.M.E. CHURCH, WILBERFORCE, OHIO

Afro-American League of Tennessee [4], 851, [48] pp, with frontis and original tissue guard, ten additional plates, a map, and a double facsimile. This is the "Library Edition," as stated on the leaf preceding the frontis portrait and the title page. Several blindstamps, old institutional bookplates on front pastedown [penciled 'withdrawn' notice on bookplate], light wear. Bound in original publisher's blue cloth, title stamped in gilt on spine and in blind [with illustration of American flag] on the front cover]; evidence of removed gum label at spine base. A clean text. Except as noted, Very Good. Frederick Douglass wrote the introduction to this massive book honoring Congressman Ashley, whose "moral courage" and "name revives the most exciting events in the conflict between freedom and slavery in the United States. Mr. Ashley plead the cause of the slave with patriotic fervor." The book, assembled by Bishop Arnett of the AME Church, collects Ashley's Addresses and Speeches during the eras of Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction; and records, with Arnett's Address [and portrait], the ceremony honoring Ashley. The text is a rich historical record of the battle for Emancipation and Ashley's efforts to protect the Freedmen during Reconstruction LCP Supp. 108. Not in Work or Blockson.
SLAVE REPRESENTATION

SLAVE REPRESENTATION, BY BOREAS. AWAKE! O SPIRIT OF THE NORTH

Cabot, George?] 23, [1 blank] pp, in modern wrappers. Vertical fold, partly uncut, light wear. Good+ or so. Cabot, to whom Dumond and the Library Company attribute authorship, was a Massachusetts Federalist and a leader of the so-called 'Essex Junto.' There were two issues: one with the 1812 date [this one], the other without. This angry New England protest deeply regrets Free States' agreement to include the Three Fifths Clause in the Constitution. This "Rotten part of the Constitution" required that, in apportioning representation in Congress, each slave be counted as 3/5 of a person. "The Slave Electoral Votes first brought Mr. Jefferson into the Presidency; and the Slave Votes in Congress have turned the majority in favour of many of the worst measures, which the Virginia Faction have dared to bring forward." The apparently magnanimous land cessions by southern States like Virginia are designed to enhance the power of "the Slave Country" by creating new slave States out of them. Examining the four occasions in which representatives have been apportioned-- 1787, 1792, 1802, and 1812-- Cabot argues that the South is grossly overrepresented in Congress. "This evil has constantly been growing greater and greater, since the adoption of the Constitution; and it will, hereafter, become absolutely intolerable." LCP 1919. Sowerby 3411. Dumond 34. AI 24899 [1]. Not in Work, Blockson, Harv. Law. Cat, Marvin.
book (2)

AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT HISTORY OF COMPANY F, 1ST NEW YORK INFANTRY, SIGNED BY COMPANY COMMANDER 2ND LIEUTENANT JOHN S. BRUSH

Civil War] New York Folio, 8" x 12". Three loose leaves making [6] pp, completely in ink manuscript. Occasional short separations at folds, light age toning and soiling, some edge wear with slight loss of text. Overall, Good+. The 1st New York Infantry Regiment was mustered for two years of service in April 1861. After serving at Big Bethel, Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, they were duly mustered out in May 1863. This history by 2nd Lieutenant John S. Brush details the organization of the company and its movements. The Company arrived at Big Bethel on the morning of June 10th [1861], formed a line of battle, remained under the enemy's fire for nearly two hours before being ordered to retreat. They moved on to Newport News where the Rebel Iron Clad Merrimac shelled the garrison for two hours before retiring; no casualties were reported. Onward to join the Army of the Potomac, and to the White House [plantation] on the Pamunkey River, on June 4 [1862]. Then to Savage Station, then joining the battle at Peach Orchard where Privates Carlisle Ferris, Patrick Culhane & Edward Corcoran were killed, and Privates William Rodgers, Frank Cox, & Thos. Hillman were wounded. Later at Glendale, "Captain John H. Carter was dangerously wounded while gallantly rallying his men to the contest" and was taken prisoner, while Sergeant Joseph E. Fallon "seeing the colors falling into the hands of the rebels rushed forward under a heavy fire from the enemy and secured two of them." Other battles and casualties are mentioned, followed by a list of soldiers who were killed, transferred, discharged, deserted, etc. With a Recapitulation signed and dated by John S. Brush at Potomac Creek, Virginia, 4 April 1863. John S. Brush [born c. 1840] was mustered into the New York Infantry in 1861 a 1st Corporal and was mustered out a 2d Lieutenant. Brush had an interesting life following the war. 1880 Federal census records list him as a resident of Sing Sing Prison. Unfortunately, this Civil War veteran went into the forgery business. By 1903 he had spent more than 20 years in Illinois and New York State prisons because of his "expertness in 'free hand' imitation of signatures and handwriting" versus the more common tracing method, making him "one of the most dangerous professional forgers operating in this country." He was so good that those he had imitated at times would identify his forgeries as their own signatures. In 1903 Brush pleaded guilty yet again to forgery and was sentenced to another five years imprisonment at Dannemora prison. By the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, he was living at the National Soldiers' Home in Tennessee. [PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWENTY-NINTH ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN BANKERS' ASSOCIATION. . . 1903. pp. 127-129.].
book (2)

UNITED STATES CONSULATE, LIVERPOOL, 18TH OCTOBER, 1864. SIR, THE ENGLISH SCREW STEAMER “SEA KING”, BUILT AT GLASGOW IN 1863, CLEARED FOR BOMBAY, AND SAILED FROM LONDON ON THE EIGHTH INSTANT. MR. SISCO, UNITED STATES CONSULAR AGENT AT DOVER, SAYS HE HAS RELIABLE INFORMATION THAT CAPTAIN SEMMES IS TO HAVE THIS VESSEL. I HAVE NOT THE LEAST DOUBT SHE IS THE VESSEL THE STEAMER “LAUREL” IS TO MEET, AND THAT CAPTAIN SEMMES, WITH THE OFFICERS, MEN AND GUNS, TAKEN OUT IN THE “LAUREL,” WILL BE TRANSFERRED TO HER. THEIR PLACE OF MEETING IS NOT KNOWN TO ME. THE “SEA KING” IS A VERY FAST, STRONG BUILT, AND FINE LOOKING SCREW STEAMER, BUILT OF WOOD WITH IRON FRAME, AND COPPERED, ABOUT ONE THOUSAND TONS BURTHEN, AND TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO FEET LONG, ONE FUNNEL, THREE BRIGHT MASTS, SHIP RIGGED, WITH WIRE RIGGING, HEAVILY SPARRED; MACHINERY ABAFT THE MAIN-MAST. NO DOUBT HER NAME WILL BE CHANGED. I AM SIR, VERY RESPECTFULLY, YOUR OBEDIENT SERVANT, THOMAS H. DUDLEY, CONSUL

Blockade Runner] "CSS Shenandoah" Pale blue folio printed sheet, folded to [1], [3 blanks] pp. Signed in type at the end. Old horizontal folds, some discoloration at blank lower corner and along edge of first page. Very Good. The Civil War launched Confederate Captain Raphael Semmes's "brilliant career as one of the greatest commerce raider captains in naval history" [Wikipedia]. But the Sea King was delivered, not to Semmes, but to Captain James Waddell and renamed the "Shenandoah." The renamed vessel, under Waddell, became "one of the most feared commerce raiders in the Confederate navy. During a period of 12-1/2 months from 1864 to 1865, the ship undertook commerce raiding around the world in an effort to disrupt the US economy, resulting in the capture and sinking or bonding of thirty-eight merchant vessels, mostly New Bedford whaleships. She finally surrendered on the River Mersey, Liverpool, UK, on November 6, 1865, six months after the war had ended. Her flag was the last sovereign Confederate flag to be officially furled. Shenandoah is also known for having fired the last shot of the Civil War, across the bow of a whaler in waters off the Aleutian Islands" [Wikipedia].
book (2)

THE PIONEER PRESS. “BALLOTS IN TIME OF PEACE. BULLETS IN TIME OF WAR.” VOL. 3. NO. 1

Clifford, J.R., Editor and Publisher] Elephant folio sheet, folded to 4pp, each 15" x 21." Each of the first three pages is printed in six columns; the final page is filled with advertisements, some illustrated. Old folds, couple of pinholes minimally affecting portion of a couple of letters. Very Good. Clifford [1848-1933] was a trailblazing black man. At age 15, he enlisted in Company F, 13th Regiment of Heavy Artillery, U.S. Colored Troops. He founded the Pioneer Press, which was the first black-owned press in West Virginia; was a founder of the Niagara Movement [led by W.E.B. DuBois]; and was "West Virginia's first African American attorney. In this role, he fought landmark trials against racial discrimination. In the case of a Tucker County teacher, he was one of the first lawyers in the nation to successfully challenge segregated schools. He also helped organize a national civil rights meeting in Harpers Ferry that was a springboard for the N.A.A.C.P." [online article on Clifford, 6 October 2016, WV Public Broadcasting site.] The Pioneer Press was "the longest running black newspaper in the country" [wv culture web site], operating until 1917, when the U.S. Government shut it down for Clifford's opposition to U.S. entry into WWI. Devoted to the interests of African-Americans, the paper ran essays-- as in this issue-- on lynching, rape of black women, newly inaugurated President Cleveland's stance on Blacks' "enjoyment of their constitutional rights," literature, ministers and religion, and the gamut of legal and political issues affecting African-Americans. The Pioneer Press was apparently self-sustaining, evidence of which is reflected in the many advertisements printed on the last two pages. A web site is devoted to the Pioneer Press. See, the J.R. Clifford Project, online. Copies of the Pioneer Press are rare; OCLC records only facsimiles as of June 2020. It is not found at AAS's online site.