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Wright, Frances.

Fanny Wright Umaksed.

Book

Extremely Rare Imprint of an Attack on Frances Wright
(Wright, Frances). [Houston, George and Thomas Skidmore]. Fanny Wright Unmasked by Her Own Pen. Third edition, with her acknowledgment of its authenticity. Explanatory notes, respecting the nature and objects of the institution of Nashoba, and of the Principles upon which it is founded. Addressed to the friends of human improvement, in all countries and of all nations. By Frances Wright. To which is affixed her letter to Robert L. Jennings, advising him to leave his wife and family, and follow her destinies. New York: C.N. Baldwin, 1830.
Bound together with:
[Houston, George and Thomas Skidmore]. Robert Dale Owen Unmasked by His Own Pen. Showing his unqualified approbation of a most obscenely indelicate work, entitled, "What is Love, or, Every Woman's Book." A work, destructive to conjugal happiness, repulsive to the modest mind, equally of man or woman, and recommending the promiscuous intercourse of sexual prostitution, a work, also approbated by the pen of Frances Wright, the authoress of the celebrated Nashoba address, advocating the indiscriminate amalgamation of the blacks and whites, the contemner of wedded love, and the severer of domestic ties. New York: C.N. Baldwin, 1830.
Slim 8vo.; contemporary three-quarter calf with paper-covered boards; foxed; hinges tender; spine and edges worn. In a specially made quarter-morocco slipcase.
First editions. Wright's Explanatory Notes originally appeared in 1828 in serialized form in the New Harmony Gazette, the paper that she helped edit with Owen in their experimental colony in New Harmony, Indiana. This is the only separate edition that was published, and in a prefatory note, Wright confirms the authenticity of the reprinted, albeit unedited, report on her colony in Nashoba, Tennessee. Wright appreciated the free publicity, despite the pamphlet's intent to discredit her ideas, and writes in the preface, "We have done our best to assist its circulation and hold the pamphlet for sale in our office." Explanatory Notes explains the goals behind the founding of Nashoba: "the protection and regeneration of the race of color, universally oppressed and despised in a country self-denominated free." The ex-slave commune ultimately failed due to poor management and lack of leadership when Wright was traveling in Europe.
As additional evidence of Wright's immorality, Houston and Skidmore also reprinted in the pamphlet a letter Wright wrote to Robert Jennings, requesting that he leave his family and come to Nashoba to found a school. Wright writes, "A school is our great object…you are the only person known to us capable of forming such a school as we are alone desirous to have…this being premised, let us look for the best means to promote our object: certainly my friend, it is not to bring Mrs. J west of the Allegheny; when you cross it, leave responsibility behind you, or you will not bring yourself" (p. 15).
In Robert Dale Owen Unmasked, Houston and Skidmore attack Wright and Owen's involvement in the distribution of Richard Carlile's What is Love, or Every Woman's Book, which promoted birth control among the lower classes. The pamphlet intersperses Owen's writing with commentary, most likely written by Skidmore, who opposed Owen on many issues including education, land distribution and inheritance legislation. Owen's stance on birth control, which he articulated in Moral Physiology (1828), however, was perceived by Skidmore to be the most dangerous to public well-being. After this pamphlet was published, the fourth edition of Moral Physiology appeared, prompting Skidmore to replace his emotional attack in Robert Dale Owen Unmasked with a more rational rebuttal. Skidmore felt that birth control was a threat to the institution of marriage because it encouraged "free love":
That the marriage contract, however simple in its form, advantageous in its design, and pleasurable in its effects, is to be torn asunder and thrown to mutilated pieces to the winds of Heaven by Frances Wright, Robert Dale Owen, and Richard Carlile, and a promiscuous sexual intercourse recommended, the "New Harmony Gazette," the "Free Enquirer," and the "Every Woman's Book" bear ample and damning testimony. Equally certain is it, also from the same sources, that these same individuals would suppress the population of the poor, by means too indecent for the caste and virtuous mind to dwell upon for a moment. (pp. 10-11)
This pamphlet is extremely rare; only BLC lists this precise imprint and edition. OCLC lists two copies of a variant edition that was "printed for purchasers." One copy of Robert Dale Owen Unmasked also appears in OCLC.
(#10094)

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