Jun 27, 2024 - Sale 2675

Sale 2675 - Lot 49

Price Realized: $ 6,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--HISTORY.) Charles Stedman. The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War. 15 maps (most folding). xv, 399; xv, 449, [14] pages. 2 volumes. 4to, contemporary mottled calf, rebacked, moderate wear; lacking half-titles, intermittent foxing, minor dampstaining, minor wear to some plates; early owner's signature in Volume II, backstrip reads "Yale College Library" but no other library markings noted. London, 1794

Additional Details

Stedman was a Pennsylvania-born graduate of the College of William & Mary. A loyalist during the Revolution, he served in the British army as a commissary and as a commander of a German-American rifle regiment. He went to England after the war, where he wrote this history. "Generally considered the best contemporary account of the Revolution written from the British side"--Sabin 91057. Howes S914 ("b"); Larned, Literature of American History 1507 ("reflects opinions of British officers, sometimes very candid").

Provenance: 1850 signature of North Carolina plantation owner John Hill Wheeler (1806-1882) on the front board of Volume II. Wheeler was a local political figure and historian who was largely forgotten to history through the 20th century. One of his enslaved women, Hannah Bond, escaped to the north in 1857 and wrote an unpublished manuscript memoir under a pseudonym, "The Bondswoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts." It surfaced in one of Swann's early African Americana auctions on 15 February 2001, lot 30, where it was purchased by the prominent historian Henry Louis Gates. Gates soon published the memoir and it became the subject of intense academic interest. In a New York Times essay titled "Borrowing Privileges" dated 2 June 2002, Gates described Wheeler's library catalog at length, and showed that some of the passages in the Hannah Bond narrative were directly influenced by books owned by Wheeler. Wheeler's 1850 manuscript library catalogue is preserved among his other papers held by the University of North Carolina. This set of Stedman's American War is listed near the end of the catalogue as item 1163. It was one of the 1200 books that Hannah Bond had the opportunity to read furtively in the years before her escape.