Advanced Search

Legal issues - Abolition] Townsend, Hannah and Mary.

Anti-Slavery Alphabet, The.


[Abolition] The Anti-Slavery Alphabet. Philadelphia: Printed for the Anti-Slavery Fair, 1847.
12mo.; removed from bound volume; original front wrapper present; lacking lower panel.
First edition of this scarce juvenile attributed to Hannah and Mary Townsend in the Liberator, January 29, 1847.  Large woodcut alphabet letters with anti-slavery verse beneath each letter. In the belief that prejudice is born of ignorance and begins or ends at an early age, the anti-slavery societies produced several juvenile publications in the 1830s and 1840s, with the Alphabet and The Slave's Friend among the most popular.
In the beginning section titled, "To Our Little Reader," the authors have written, in part,
   Listen, little children all,
   Listen to our earnest call:
   You are very young, 'tis true,
   But there's much that you can do.
   Even you can plead with men
   That they buy not slaves again,
   And that those they have may be
   Quickly set at liberty.
   They may harken what you say,
   Though from us they turn away.
The quatrains accompanying the woodcut alphabet letters are powerfully emotive in their message, employing the oppressive vocabulary of slavery and redemptive language of abolition in its rhymes. For the letter "L" the authors write: "L is the lash, that brutally/ He swung around his head,/ Threatening that "if it cried again,/ He'd whip it till 'twas dead." And, on a more positive note, "U is for Upper Canada,/ Where the poor slave has found/ Rest after all his wanderings/ For it is British ground!"
This copy is from the library of a woman abolitionist: it is signed on the upper panel, "J. Eliz. Jones/Nov. 5th, 1864." It later went to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, whose stamp is on the upper and lower panels.  

© 2011-2018 Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. All Rights Reserved.