Mar 28, 2019 - Sale 2503

Sale 2503 - Lot 71

Price Realized: $ 37,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
"THE FIRST BLACK PERIODICAL PUBLISHED IN THIS COUNTRY" (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) Ruggles, David; editor. The Mirror of Liberty, for July 1838. Volume One, Number One. 8 pages. Folio, original green printed wrappers, lacking half of rear wrapper, otherwise moderate wear; minor foxing, fore-edge and corners trimmed; inscribed on front wrapper "To the Pres. & Sec. of the Boscawen Anti Slav. Soc.," pencil library gift inscription from 1922 on inner wrapper. In a modern custom folding case reading "David Ruggles." New York: "Edited and Published by David Ruggles," July 1838

Additional Details

The first issue of the first magazine edited by an African American. A radical abolitionist publication, it features the caption "Liberty is the Word for Me--Above All, Liberty" in the masthead. It begins with a rousing introduction by editor David Ruggles dated on the Fourth of July: "This Journal enters the arena . . . for the restoration of Equal Liberty, and the full enfranchisement of my down-trodden countrymen. . . . It will vindicate outraged human nature at all times. . . . Unless we stab slavery through the conscience of the slave-holder, hope of its removal would be chimerical." Two of the articles detail actions on behalf of alleged slaves, including a slave illegally imported from Guadeloupe, and a woman Ruggles personally liberated from illegal bondage in Brooklyn. Another article celebrates the resignation of Ruggles's nemesis, City Recorder Richard Riker, who had cooperated with fugitive slave hunters. It also prints the second annual report of the New York Committee of Vigilance, for which Ruggles served as secretary (see above).
The Mirror of Liberty was intended to be offered quarterly, but was issued more sporadically between 1838 and 1841, as Ruggles contended with failing eyesight, legal troubles, poverty, and his ongoing efforts to protect the freedom of his fellow African Americans. "The first black periodical published in this country"--Bullock, Afro-American Periodical Press, page 1, 25-33, 254 (tracing just one other extant copy of this first issue, at the American Antiquarian Society). "Generally accepted as the first magazine produced by a black American in the United States"--Hodges, "David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City," page 120. Not in Lomazow's American Periodicals; none of this first issue traced at auction, though Swann offered issue #4 back in 2005.