Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2018 Issue

Inhumanity in New York

2cedcb57-d012-44d8-8b61-6d984f45135d

I’m a collector of Ulster County specifically and the Hudson Valley generally.  On the 29th of March a lot offered at Swann, No. 13 in Sale No. 2471, attracted both my bid and, since receiving it, my intense interest.

 

Here it is:

 


"TO BE BURNED AT THE STAKE . . . UNTILL HE IS DEAD, AND AFTER THAT TO ASHES" (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) Trial account of an enslaved New York man for arson, with the order to burn him at the stake. 3 manuscript pages, 12 3/4 x 8 inches, on 2 leaves, the last leaf with the signatures and seals of twelve officials; folds and minor wear. Kingston, NY, 28 and 29 August 1730

Estimate $2,000 - 3,000 

Arson was one of the most extreme forms of resistance available to slaves, and figured prominently in the New York slave insurrections of 1712 and 1741. As a deterrent, punishments were harsh. This trial took place in Ulster County along the Hudson River between Albany and New York City. The first of these two documents is the minutes of a meeting of the county's seven Justices of the Peace to hear the case of "a Negro man of Capt. Albert Pawling, called Jack, being accused of fellony for burning of the barn and barels, severall sheep, oats, pease &c of Richard Broadhead at Marbletown." Jack testified that he came from the nearby town of Wawarsing and "went into the cook room of Richard Brodhead and fetched fire and tryed to sett the barn afire but he missed. . . . The second time he went to Daniel Broadhead's house and took a brand end of fire there and then he set the barn in fire." The next morning, the prisoner was brought before the bar, was tried according to the evidence, confessed a second time to the crime, and was sentenced to be "burned untill he is dead and after that to ashes." 
The second document is an order to the Ulster County constables to "deliver the prisoner Jack now in custody to the executioner London, negro man of Johannis Low, to be burned at the stake forthwith untill he is dead, and after that to ashes." It is signed by the seven justices and by "five of the principall freeholders of said county," most of them from the old Dutch settler families who predominated in Ulster Country at the time. 
These documents were in the possession of Ulster County historian Jonathan W. Hasbrouck, and were published after his death in 1918 (Hoes, Old Court Houses of Ulster County, page 7). We have traced no other mention in the historical record of this disturbing incident. 

 

Price Realized (with Buyer's Premium) $3,250

 

Collecting, in my experience, has been about recreating the thought process of a time.  When, years ago, I collected the history of early Florida I sought to understand how Europeans and their ideas intersected with Florida’s indigenous population.  The Europeans would emerge victorious by waging a two-pronged attack based on superior arms and human contempt.  Refusal to accept that native Americans were human permitted unspeakable acts of brutality.  Add to this the local lack of immunities to disease that generations of Europeans had developed left America’s native populations vulnerable to the point that entire peoples in North and South America were destroyed by diseases like measles and small pox.

 

In Florida two European perspectives competed for dominance; the Spanish view that the local population was to be converted to Catholicism, the English that they be considered less than human, denied basic rights, exterminated or transported to distant, unproductive land, to be forgotten.  Neither was kind.  The English won and America has since warred with itself over whether humanity is a grant or the basic human condition.  Today, with America at the nadir of what Martin Luther King called “the arc of the moral universe” that is long, but bends toward justice, we confront the moral emptiness of the view held today by the twenty-something percent of Americans who believe that humans, who are of different color or pray to different gods, should be denied the very inalienable rights they themselves view as their birthright.  

 

And long has it been so.

 

As this set of documents relating to the burning alive of a slave in 1730 in Ulster County for arson affirms, the abject dehumanization of non-whites, when left to local citizens, could happen, even in the very shadows of the churches such governing families attended on Sundays to be preached back into compliance with religious values.

 

We have come so far and, then again, we have not come far enough.

 

So, I’m grateful to have acquired this piece of Ulster County history, even if its implications are soul-deadening.  Records of it are thin. The county histories have nary a mention but Swann, ever thorough, found references in a 1918 pamphlet, so its story, a flickering flame that local 19th century historians sought to forget, now lives on for another generation to ponder.


Posted On: 2018-05-01 20:13
User Name: greengyrene199

Horrifying, especially as a former resident of Ulster County. Living here in Florida has been a revelation with the unending racism and bigotry toward people of color. Went to jail for 25 days to stop a float that demeaned and exploited Native Americans here in New Port Richey. After the election we started CADSI--Citizens Against Discrimination and Social Injustice. It keeps us very busy.



Response from Bruce McKinney:


Thank you for your comment. Racism is instinctive, lives in darkness and dies in the daylight. I expect to give these documents to a public institution that will agree every five years for the next one hundred, to retell this story and sponsor a speech on the status of race relations in the United States.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cartwright (George). <i>A Journal of Transactions and Events, during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador...,</i> first edition, with A.L.s. from the author, 1792. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Swift (Jonathan). <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> 2 vol., first edition, Teerink's "A" edition, Printed for Benj. Motte, 1726. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Fourier (Jean Baptiste Joseph). <i>Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur,</i> first edition, Paris, chez Firmin Didot, 1822. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Genealogiae Deorum,</i> additions by Dominicus Silvester and Raphael Zovenzonius, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mary I. Letter signed at the head "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, 1 page, 7th June 1556. The recall from exile of nine persons opposed to the Marian regime. £10,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Nelson (Horatio). Autograph Letter signed "Horatio Nelson" and written to Francis Drake, British Minister at Genoa, discussing the disposition of his "Cruizers" near Genoa. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Unpublished Autograph Letter signed to Walter Raleigh Browne, playing down his scientific knowledge of comparative anatomy, 1881. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Murphew (J.). <i>The fair in an uproar, or, the dancing-doggs.</i> As they perform in Mr. Pinkeman's New Opera in Bartholomew Fair, 1707. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>The Workes,</i> by [Nicholas Hill for] Thomas Petit, dwellyng in Paules churche yarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed, 1550. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Austen (Jane). <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> 3 vol., first edition, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>Stamboul Train,</i> first edition, first issue, 1932. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Churchill.- Fearon (Percy Hutton) "Poy". “Eat More Beef,” pen and ink cartoon with shading in blue pencil, [July 1928]. £400 to £600
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions