We've been fortunate to have a couple of artifacts on loan for the last few weeks. It has been interesting examining these items and learning more about them. We hope to be able to do more of this in the future. But for now, allow me to share my Curator's Report on these two items.
The first item is indeed an original first edition of Horace Greeley's The American Conflict, Vol I. This book was published in 1864, even before the war's conclusion. It represents one of the earliest of such propaganda used for the Union side. It is an attempt to frame the Union cause as a moral one, based on abolition as opposed to a revolution fought to centralize power in Washington.
This particular book has some wear and damage on the exterior but it also has some very well preserved illustrations from that time period. The story behind this book is that the current owner bought it from a man who had intended to cut through the pages to make a void in which to store a pistol. Quick thinking and a purchase saved this book from a showdown with stupidity. Use a discarded school dictionary, dork.
The second was even more exciting to host. It has been confirmed to be an original distribution copy of the 1877 Georgia State Constitution. This document was drafted after Reconstruction had ended. Washington had relinquished governing power back to Atlanta. The Democrats had reestablished control of Georgia politics. They decided to draft a constitution as a free state, rather than one micromanaged by outside forces. And so a convention was called. With much influence by ABG hero Robert Toombs (pictured above, bottom left), they drafted and ratified this document. For the first time since the fall of Milledgeville, Georgia had a government completely of its own making.
The assembly commissioned prominent Atlanta printer James P. Harrison, who produced books on everything from race relations to religion to ecology, to print 10,000 copies of the new constitution to be distributed in Georgia. This is one of the copies the survive to this day. How many others exist, we're not sure. But it is not believed to be many.
It's been interesting to have these items but it's time for them to return home. We'd love to host more items in the future. Suggestions are welcomed.
Special thanks to Ken Studdard of Dogwood Books on Broad Street in Rome for his help on the research of these items. If you.re ever in that neighborhood, stop in and check this amazing place out. Tell Ken we sent you. We promise he won't charge you double.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire