1839 · New York
The layers of abolitionist association present in this book are an important reminder of the close ties and collaborations happening among anti-racist allies of the 19th century. A View of the Action of the Federal Government, here in early edition, was William Jay's excoriating castigation of the U.S.'s complicity in the past and present of slavery. "By contrasting actual federal involvement in slavery with the constitutionally required minimal involvement," Jay highlighted the government's "gratuitous complicity in enslavement with what the national government might permissably do against in" (Cover). Among the most influential legal pieces written on the topic at the time, it clearly had a place in Gerrit Smith's reading and library. After all, Smith, a relative to both Amelia Blooomer and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and outspoken advocate for dress reform and women's rights, he was also a direct supporter of the revolutionary Black ally John Brown and a staunch abolitionist. On his death in 1874, the New York Times commented, "The history of the most important half century of our national life will be imperfectly written if it fails to place Gerrit Smith in the front rank of men...he was active and powerful in forming public sentiment that controlled politicians." In the course of his life, he accomplished this by printing "approximately two hundred circular letters, speeches, and pamphlets dealing with the various questions, political, social, and theological in which he happened to be interested. He kept close oversight of his voluminous correspondence" (Syracuse).
Famed for his national engagement, Smith was also deeply involved in local politics, which makes the Elder Moore association likely. A member of the Smith family that founded Smithfield, he began "giving parcels of his lands, the greater part in the Adirondacks, to thousands of poor white and Black families to give them a start as farmers...He spent freely for his own village of Peterboro, providing flagstone walks, drainage, and roads. He opened Peterboro Academy, providing a site for it in the village as well as a salary budget and free tuition" and he contributed to HBCU's including Howard University (Syracuse).
History of Chenango & Madison Counties New York, 1880. (Inventory #: 4170)