BUCKINGHAM, James Silk. The Slave States of America. London and Paris, Fisher, Son, & Co., 1842.
Two volumes, 8vo. Contemporary full tan calf; spine ornamented in gilt and with black morocco lettering-pieces, covers with gilt double-fillets and ornamented in blind, marbled edges and endpapers; pp. [xxx], 487; [xii], 600, eight steel-engraved plates and one additional heraldic Eton plate; extremities a little rubbed, occasional light foxing to plates (less than usual); a very good copy in an Eton school prize binding, presented by George Follett to his friend John Stratford Dugdale (1835-1920, KC) on leaving Eton in 1853 (inscription to initial blank), Dugdale's engraved armorial bookplate inside front cover.
First and only edition, the preferable issue with index. Buckingham had travelled 'through that portion of the North American Republic, in which the Institution of Slavery still exists, and to which its supporters and defenders still cling, with a tenacity as much to be deplored as it is to be wondered at' (Dedication to Price Albert). Buckingham was an indefatigable traveller and travel writer, as much as a relentless compaigner for a variety of progressive causes. In the preface he lines out his approach to slavery in the Southern States. 'I have endeavoured to describe the state of Slavery in the Southern States, of which these volumes will contain a full account. I shall perhaps be blamed by some English readers for the admissions which I make, if not in favour, at least in palliation, of the conduct of many slaveholders in America, as well as in the confessions which truth demands, of the well-being, and even comfort, of some of the domestic slaves. On the other hand, I expect my full share of censure from a large section, at least, of the people of America, for daring to speak, as truth compels me to do, of the wretched condition of the great body of the African race throughout the South; and of the reckless indifference to human life, and human obligations of every kind, which the very system of Slavery engenders in nearly all the white population who live beneath its influence. To the censures of both these parties I shall be willing to submit, and console myself with the belief that I have served the cause of truth and justice, better than by attempting to please either'.
The book is a proper travel narrative of arriving in New York, Charleston, Florida, the Carolinas, Savannah, including extensive river boat journeys, Augusta, Georgia, Alabama, New Orleans and many more places which where later part of the Confederate States. Wonderful illustrations of the ante-bellum South. 'Mr Buckingham's great work on America … contains a fund of statistical and general information on the rise, progress, manners etc., of the people. The plates are from Bartlett's American Scenery' (Sabin 8899).