May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 66

Price Realized: $ 1,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) Letter copy books of abolitionist Thaddeus Hyatt, including two letters on John Brown and Harpers Ferry. [79], [490] manuscript pages (not collated). 4to, contemporary unmatched 1/2 calf, worn, second volume crudely rebacked; contents on thin paper with moderate wear and occasional early tape repairs. New York and London, 1858-59, 1875-76

Additional Details

Thaddeus Hyatt (1816-1901) was a white inventor and abolitionist. He was an organizer and first president of the National Kansas Committee, leader of the settlement of Hyattsville in Kansas, and most notably provided financial support to the revolutionary John Brown. He was imprisoned by the United States Senate for several months in 1860 for his refusal to testify of the Brown raid. This lot includes two letters which mention his connection to the plot.
The first volume covers from September 1858 to November 1859, containing letters written from New York. The last two letters in this volume are the only ones dated after the October 1859 Harpers Ferry raid. Both are dated 12 November 1859, and relate to his efforts to secure a patent for one of his inventions. In a letter addressed to "Al," Hyatt writes "My enemies opposed me with great violence. Kansas and Old Brown was used with all the art they could muster." A second letter of the same date, to "Ed," discusses the matter further: "The fight lasted for more than a month. The 'old Brown' affair turned up at the most inopportune moment. Forbes had me in the Herald connected with Harpers Ferry & old Brown . . . and blathered about Kansas & Hyatt's complicity with 'the late bloody tragedy.'"
Among his other letters in this first volume is one to Supreme Court justice Samuel Blatchford. His 21 September 1858 letter to Abelard Guthrie discusses the failed Kansas settlement at Quindaro: "As for my remaining in the place to be wholly & utterly ruined, of course no sane man would expect it." Among his several letters to Atchison, KS mayor and future senator Samuel C. Pomeroy, on 6 November 1858 he complains about Kansas affairs: "This is the last quixotic operation I ever get into, I think. The next time I undertake to hitch onto a load and find a bag of wind in my rear, I hope to go up."
The second volume is much longer, and dates from September 1875 to December 1876 while Hyatt was in London; it relates mostly to his inventions and patents. The pages are numbered through 981, but the letters are written on only one side of each leaf. The letters are interesting in their own right, though we expect his mentions of "the old Brown affair" will be most interesting of all.