This 1846 Anti-Slavery Alphabet Is Fantastic
by by Chris Holmes
I’m currently in the middle of re-watching the excellent Civil War documentary by Ken Burns, so this particular item feels extra significant to me at the moment. It’sThe Anti-Slavery Alphabet, published for an Anti-Slavery Fair in 1846 and created by Quakers Hannah and Mary Townsend of Philadelphia. The alphabet consists of sixteen leaves, printed on one side, with the printed pages facing each other and hand-sewn into a paper cover. Each of the letter illustrations is hand-colored.
The target audience for this book, as you might expect, was children who the Townsends hoped would adopt an Abolitionist point of view. History tells us, of course, that it would take more than 20 years and a bloody Civil War for the Abolitionists’ dream to become reality.
All images courtesy the Mississippi Department of Archives & History.