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Sale 2517 Lot 37
(CIVIL WAR.) The Great Union Speech of Hon. Alexander H. Stephens. Letterpress broadside, 19 x 11 3/4 inches, wear and separation at folds, tape repairs on verso, moderate toning and edge wear. New York: P.W. Derham, circa 1863
Estimate $400 - 600
A curious piece of anti-Confederate propaganda. It purports to be a speech given by future Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens at the Georgia secession convention in January 1861. The speech begins "This step once taken could never be recalled," and strongly opposes secession. Stephens had indeed opposed secession at first, but denied that he ever made this particular speech (see Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens, page 215). His 1878 biographers Johnston & Brown in Life of Alexander H. Stephens write that it was "a mere forgery, contrived in that section for political purposes" (page 383). The first newspaper mention we find was in The Liberator of 27 March 1863, where it was sent in by the controversial abolitionist Henry Clarke Wright.