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Legal issues - Abolition] Weld, Theodore Dwight.

American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses


First Articulation Of
The Fusion Of Anti-Slavery Movement With Women's Rights Movement
[Abolition]. Weld, Theodore Dwight. American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses. New York: The American Anti-Slavery Society, 1839.
Slim 8vo.; light foxing throughout; blue wrappers; light wear.
First edition of "the greatest of the anti-slavery pamphlets; in all probability, the most crushing indictment of any institution ever written": #9148 in Blockson's Catalogue.
In his introduction to American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses, Theodore Dwight Weld (1803-1895) impaneled readers as would-be jurors "to try a plain case and bring in an honest verdict. The question at issue is…'What is the actual condition of the slaves in the United States?'" Published in the summer of 1839, the New York abolitionist's uncensored 224-page compilation of eyewitness accounts, interviews, narratives, newspaper disclosures, and sworn testimony of slaveholders and former slaveholders-men and women-sold over one hundred thousand copies within the first year.
In drawing from the testimony of slave-owners, former slave-owners, and witnesses to the evils of slavery, Weld presents the wretched treatment of slaves regardless of gender, physical and emotional condition, family attachments and any other considerations. "We will prove," asserted the 35-year-old evangelical editor:
that the slaves in the United States are treated with barbarous inhumanity; that they…have red pepper rubbed into their lacerated flesh, and hot brine, spirits of turpentine, &c., poured over the gashes to increase the torture; that they are…often suspended by the arms and whipped and beaten till they faint, and when revived by restoratives, beaten again…that their ears are often cut off, their eyes knocked out, their bones broken, their flesh branded with red hot irons; that they are maimed, mutilated and burned to death over slow fires.
A primary sourcebook for Charles Dickens' American Notes for General Circulation (1842) and Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly (Harriet Beecher Stowe avowed that she tucked a copy "in her work basket by day, and slept with it under her pillow by night, till its facts crystallized into Uncle Tom"), Weld's "lexicography of Hell," said the Emancipator, was arguably the "greatest stumper of the slaveholders that was ever invented by man."

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