May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 49

Price Realized: $ 406
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 600 - $ 900
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) Thompson, George. Sonnet on the Morning of the 1st of August, the Anniversary of Emancipation. Autograph Manuscript Signed, 8 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches; clipped from the verso of the address panel of a letter postmarked from India to an unidentified recipient in Oxford, England, previously mounted in an autograph album, with mount remnant and small portions of two other autographs on verso, folds and moderate wear, unevenly trimmed with the loss of the upper left corner almost touching title. Begum's Palace, Delhi, India, 1 August 1843

Additional Details

George Thompson (1804-1878) was one of the most important of the British abolitionists. During a lecture tour of the United States in 1834, he was nearly killed by slavery supporters. He wrote this poem during a tour of India in support of more equitable treatment for Britain's subjects there. He reflects on the Slavery Abolition Act which took effect throughout the British empire on 1 August 1834. It reads in part "Ye, who lack courage in the trying hour / When truth contends with error, right with power / . . . think on this day, & henceforth, no more dare / To doubt the issue of that glorious strife / Which leads to justice, liberty and life / It is decreed! Nor far remote the time / When freedom's trump shall sound through every clime!"
This poem was published in the Ninth Annual Report of the Glasgow Emancipation Society, page 51, as part of a 10 August 1843 letter to one of the Society's members. In the letter, he prefaces the poem: "That this cover may not go blank, I transcribe from my note-book a sonnet." The present example, written on the back of an address cover leaf of a letter posted from India to England, is very likely the same one published in this report, although the remainder of the letter is not here present. The letter and poem were later republished in a 29 December 1843 issue of The Liberator.