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(EARLY AMERICAN IMPRINT.) Anthony Benezet. The Pennsylvania Spelling-Book. 160 pages. 16mo, stitched; title page detached, moderate wear to exterior leaves, lacking the 4th leaf, full closed tear to leaf E7, a bit dog-eared, minor dampstaining toward rear. In modern custom folding case. Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1776
First edition, with others following in 1779 and 1782. The author was a Huguenot immigrant who joined the Quakers and became one of the leading early abolitionists in America. In 1770 he founded a "Negro School" in Philadelphia, and in 1775 he was a leading organizer of the first anti-slavery organization in America, the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. This spelling book contains little overtly abolitionist material, but it is "particularly calculated for the use of parents, guardians and others, remote from schools; in the private tuition of their children, and illiterate domesticks." The content includes vocabulary lists and short sentences, working up to more complex essays. A catechism near the end asks "Who is our neighbor, whom we must love?" The answer is "We are to love all men. . . . The Indians and Ethiopians or Negroes are consequently our neighbors, our brethren, whom we are enjoined to love as ourselves." Bristol B4181; Rosenbach, Early American Children's Books 86 (describing the second edition only). 4 copies in ESTC; none of any edition traced at auction since 1971.
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