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Wisdom of the Ages - The Remnant Trust at Kansas State University Libraries

This guide describes the materials on exhibit in from the Remnant Trust's "Wisdom of the Ages" collection. We also provide information about handling materials and the history of written communication, books, printing, and publishing.

The Oldest

Sumerian Terracotta Tablet - Cuneiform Tablet (ca. 2200 B.C.)

Sumerian terracotta tablet with cuneiform inscriptions.

The Sumerians flourished in southern Babylonia from the beginning of the fourth to the end of the third millennium B.C. Their written language allowed them to produce a vast body of literature that included epics and poems. The religious and spiritual concepts developed by the Sumerian had a profound influence on all the peoples of the near east. The thousands of clay tablets and inscriptions that have been preserved tell about the Sumerian government, law, business practices, religion, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine.

Translation for Sumerian Clay Tablet:

GOD OF PROSPERITY BORN TO AN AND GAZED UPON BY URACCU-SUEN, LIKE NANNA EXHERT INJUDGMENT, BEFORE ENLIL, FROM YOUR BIRTH YOU WERE A MAN OF MIGHT WHOSE NAME WAS PROCLAIMED BY NANNA! CU-SUEN, HEROIC SON OF AN, BELOVED OF ENLIL, HEAD HELD HIGH IN THE LAPIS-LAZULI E-KUR, GIVEN BIRTH BY URAC, CHOSEN BY THE HEART OF URAC, YOU HAVE BEEN ELEVATED OVER ALL THE LANDS. ORNAMENT AND AUGUST SERVANT OF ENLIN WHOSE SCEPTRE HAS REACHED FAR, WHO ALONE HAS ENLIL'S EAR! ENDOWED WITH MAJESTIC STRENGTH, CREATION OF LUSTROUS AN, FAVOURTIE OF NINLIL CU-SUEN, PROVIDER WHO RADIATES BEAUTY!

Akhlaq-i Nasiri The Nasirean Ethics - Nasir al-din Al-Tusi (1264)

Manuscript on paper in Arabic. One of the three earliest extant copies (written in the author’s lifetime close to the date of its composition.)

One of the best known ethical digests composed in medieval Persia, if not in all medieval Islam. It appeared initially in 633/1235 when al-Tusi was already a celebrated scholar, scientist, and political-religious propagandist. The work has a special significance because it was composed by an outstanding figure at a crucial time when he was helping to shape history: some 20 years later al-Tusi was to cross the greatest psychological watershed in Islamic civilization, playing a leading part in the capture of Baghdad and the extinction of the generally acknowledged caliphate there. In this work, the author is primarily concerned with the criteria of human behavior: first, in terms of space and priority allotted at the individual level; secondly, at the economic level; and thirdly, at the political level. This “Mirror of Princes” is the Persian complement to Aristotle's “Nicomachean Ethics” and “Politics.”

1500 to 1576

Egyptian Scroll Covenant With Abraham from Genesis 15:4-17:23 - Torah (16th Century)

Handwritten Torah Fragment Scroll from Egypt, written on deer skin.

The scroll contains the Covenant with Abraham from Genesis 15:4-17:23. “Since the Genizah Egyptian Torah find from the 12th Century, Egyptian Torah fragments are of the most highly prized. Genizah fragments of the Ben Ezra Synagogue are seldom seen or made available. Scrolls from ancient Egypt are very distinctive in their deep reddish color and very rare as well. This deep reddish color is due to the process used in making the scroll. This process ages to a deep reddish color over the centuries. This very soft leather parchment holds its ink very well and the hand-written letters remain very dark and easy to read despite centuries of use in Synagogue.”

Scivias libri tres - Hildegard of Bingen (1513)

First edition (except where cited).

Six works collected into one volume including the “very rare first appearance in print of Hildegard's ‘Scivias,’ published with four other first editions of major Medieval spiritual works.” “Title-page woodcut portrays the six authors with their most recognizable attributes.” The volume was “prepared from authoritative manuscripts by the most illustrious French humanist and editor of his time, Jacques Lefevre d'Etaple. Eight manuscripts only survive to this day.” “Scivias,” included here on leaves 28 to 118, is “the most substantial of all the texts,” and “was the best-known and most influential of Hildegard's works in her time. Completed in 1151 or 1152, it describes twenty-six visions experienced by the contemplative nun, articulated in three sections, mirroring the Trinity.” “‘Scivias’ was the model for Elizabeth of Schonau's ‘Visions,’ here also printed in first edition, along with three other first editions of major works of Medieval spirituality: the ‘Visio Uguetini,’ the second-century ‘Pastor of Hermas,’ and Robert d'Uzés. The sixth text is an early edition of the Liber spiritualis gratiae of Mechthild von Hackeborn.”

Diet of Worms - Martin Luther (1521)

Very rare first edition.

A “contemporary printing of Luther's speech to the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521, often regarded as a turning point in German and European history.” Luther's appearance at the Imperial Diet was brought about by Pope Leo X's demand that Emperor Charles V present to Luther a bull of excommunication. Luther's first appearance in front of the Diet was on April 17. “He was asked whether he acknowledged authorship of the works to which the Pope objected and he replied that he did. He was then asked if he was ready to recant his errors, rather than answering immediately, he asked for 24 hours to prepare a response.” Luther's response is what is presented here in which he describes his writings as being divided into three categories: works which were well received by even his enemies; books which attacked the abuses, lies, and desolation of the Christian world and the papacy; and attacks on individuals “who seek to preserve the Roman Tyranny and to destroy the godliness which [he] teaches.” Afterwards, on May, 25, 1521, the decree the Edict of Worm was issued, declaring Luther a heretic and called for his arrest. Luther narrowly escaped arrest by hiding at Wartburg Castle.

Von Den Schlüsseln (Power of the Keys) - Martin Luther (1530)

Rare first edition with broad woodcut title border depicting putti and adults behind pillars.

“The most detailed and most important work of Luther on the Power of the Keys (‘Schlüsseln’); a power that Christ, according to Matthew 16:19, gave to St. Peter; understood as the power to admit or exclude from church membership (excommunicate), to set church policy and teachings (dogma), to render binding interpretations of Sacred Scripture, and to bind and loose sins. Luther and the Reformers pointed out that Jesus uses much the same language in John 20:23 and therefore conferred some or all the same powers on all the Apostles. On this basis Luther spoke of the ‘office of the Keys’ as the power of church leaders to admit or exclude from church membership. Luther, in a polemical form, depicts the abuses of the church, derived from the Power of the Keys to their own arbitrary laws, giving the afflicted and sinners the power of attorney, however, not the certainty of salvation.”

Magna Charta - Magna Carta (1576)

“One of two printings by [printer Richard] Tottell in [1576], the first printing in some twenty years.”

“The text for this printing is supplemented for the first time with more recent statutes, primarily from the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, which now comprise about one-half of the volume. This became the standard text for subsequently early editions.” “The Magna Carta, the Great Charter of English liberties granted by King John in 1215 under threat of civil war, is one of the most influential documents ever published and its significance has grown immeasurably with the passage of time. The Magna Carta holds “a unique place in popular imagination; quite early in its history it became a symbol and a battle cry against oppression, each successive generation reading into it a protection of their own threatened liberties.”

1605 to 1661

Two Books - Francis Bacon (1605)

First edition.

The work is “Bacon's preliminary statement of his massive plan to survey all human knowledge and to reorganize scientific method, as he later propounded in ‘Instauratio Magna’ and ‘De Augmentis Scientiarum.’” The volume is “divided into two books, the first dealing with the merit of augmenting learning, and the second with mapping out parts of knowledge, indicating which parts were extant, absent, or in need of revision in order to facilitate the advancement of learning explained in the first book. It is in the second book that we find Bacon's classification of knowledge. He revised parts of it in 1612 and further in 1623” when he translated it into Latin.

The History of the World - Walter Raleigh (1614)

First edition with the “Life and Tryal of the Author” and eight double-page maps. Written during Raleigh's imprisonment in the Tower of London from 1603 to 1616.

“Raleigh began work on ‘The History of the World’ in 1607. Registered in 1611 and finally published two years later, it was suppressed by George Abbott, archbishop of Canterbury, on December 22, and copies were seized by the king's agents for his own use … because it was ‘too sawcie in censuring princes.’ The suppression order was soon lifted and the ‘History’ was reprinted in 1617. It remained popular: there were at least eleven editions in the seventeenth century, one in the eighteenth, and one in the nineteenth.” The volume “was intended to outline historical events from creation to modern times, drawing on the Bible, Greek mythology, and other sources.” It “ends abruptly with the second Macedonian War instead of continuing through two more volumes as originally intended.”

Archimedes Opera - Archimedes (1615)

First edition, with woodcut device on title page and numerous woodcut diagrams throughout.

“The work contains the Greek text with a Latin translation alongside and has extensive explanatory notes.” Bound with central arms for Queen Marie de' Medici, widow of Henry IV of France. This important and highly influential version of the works of Archimedes was edited by David Rivault, who was a tutor in mathematics to Louis XIII and founder of a scientific salon at the Louvre. This edition was the basis for the first proper German edition, translated by J.C. Sturm in 1670, and was the edition read and used by such influential figures as Descartes and Fermat. “It contains all Archimedes’ monumental contributions to science: his discovery of the principle of specific gravity and methods for calculating the centers, circle measurements, the quadrature of the parabola and spirals, techniques of analysis, his theoretical work on mechanics and hydrostatics, an approximation of the value of pi, and his treatment of the numeration of large numbers.”

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (1635)

Second edition of the first English translation, published only one year after the first edition.

Written as a series of private reflections between 161 and 180 A.D. in Greek, the “Meditations” offer “a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. Ranging from doubt and despair to conviction and exaltation, they cover such diverse topics as the nature of moral virtue, human rationality, divine providence, and Marcus’ own emotions. But while the ‘Meditations’ were composed to provide personal consolation and encouragement, in developing his beliefs Marcus Aurelius also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a timeless collection of extended meditations and short aphorisms that has been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers, and readers through the centuries.”

The Alcoran of Mahomet - Koran (1649)

First edition English, octave issue.

Translated by Alexander Ross “from the French translation of Andre du Ryer (‘L'Alcoran de Mahomet,’ Paris, 1647).

To this Ross adds an introduction (‘The Translator to the Christian Reader’), two letters of praise for du Ryer's translation, a ‘Life and Death of Mahomet’ and ‘A needful Caveat of Admonition,’ for them who desire to know what use may be made of, or if there be danger in reading the ‘Alcoran.’” This remarkable work was translated with a preface that gives an idea of the thoughts and feelings of religious differences and attitudes during the seventeenth century. The volume states in the preface that it was “translated as an antidote to confirm the health of Christianity” and so that “others may see their colors, that so viewing the enemies in their full body so one can be prepared to encounter and overcome them.” “Ross's translations remained the only English version for 85 years (until George Sales published his translation in 1734).”

Leviathan - Thomas Hobbes (1651)

First edition, with additional engraved title-page and folding table.

“The work concerns the structure of society and legitimate government, and is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential examples of social contract theory.” “Written during the English Civil War (1642-1651), ‘Leviathan’ argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. Hobbes wrote that civil war and the brute situation of a state of nature (‘the war of all against all’) could only be avoided by strong, undivided government.” “Later philosophical emphasis on the rights of the individual led to a decline in Hobbes' influence, but the growth of utilitarianism led to his reassessment as ‘the most original political philosopher of his time.’”

Della Scienza Mecanica - Galileo Galilei (1655)

First collected edition with woodcuts.

This popular treatise was widely circulated in manuscript form and is effectively a “bridge between statics and dynamic.” The work remained unpublished until Marin Mersenne produced a French-language paraphrase of the original manuscript in Paris in 1634 and printed in 1649 in original Italian. “‘Della Scienza Mecanica’ is based on a series of lectures on aspects of statics and of simple machines delivered by Galileo for his pupils at Padua in the 1590s.” “Incorporating elements from Aristotle, Archimedes, Pappus, Philoponus, Jordanus, and others, ‘Della Scienza Mecanica’ offers ‘a coherent and illuminating exposition of the foundations of mechanics.’” A precursor to the research that he would present in his “Discorsi,” “little of the content of ‘Della Scienza Mecanica’ found its way into the ‘Discorsi.’ (With the exception of a discussion of the lever, Galileo omitted the time-honored topic of simple machines, choosing to emphasize his newer findings on dynamics.) The ‘Scienza’ shows ‘unmistakable novelty,’ and represents an important stepping stone in Galileo’s intellectual development; early investigations into conservation of energy and the principle of inertia can be traced here.”

Rebels No Saints: or, A Collection of the Speeches, Private Passages, Letters, Prayers of Those Persons Lately Executed -  Attributed to a Person of Quality (1661)

First edition. A scarce, important piece of printed propaganda from the English Civil War.

“This collection is reputed to be speeches, letters, and prayers written or spoken by 10 Regicides among the first to be executed during the Restoration. It is by some regarded as spurious. The collector, ‘a person of quality,’ initials his introduction to the reader as ‘W.S.’ but much of the work is an exact reprint of material published in 1660 under a different title and, also spuriously, credited to Thomas Harrison. There were a great number of forged speeches and prayers printed after the Restoration, and countless accounts of purges during the trials. But they were all, for a time, a significant force in the swaying of public opinion back to the side of the Royalists. The Regicides whose pretended speeches, letters, and prayers are here supplied are: Thomas Harrison, John Carew, John Cook, Hugh Peters, Thomas Scott, Gregory Clement, Adrian Scroope, John Jones, Francis Hacker, and Daniel Axtell, all of whom were hung, drawn and quartered October 13-19, 1660.”

1714 to 1769

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica - Isaac Newton (1714)

First published in 1687 in Latin in three books. Newton annotated and corrected two further editions in 1713 and 1726. This edition is a reprint of 1713 edition.

Newton's masterpiece alone is known simply as the “Principia.” The first two books focus on mechanics and the third on the solar system. “Newton states his three laws of motion which established the relationship between mass, force, and direction.” He discusses “the movement of bodies through gases and liquids” and defines mass, force, and the corpuscular theory of light. “Most important of all, he refutes the then prevailing theory of the vortices of Descartes, and established the principle of universal gravitation and motion of the planets.” The “Principia” is “justly regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science.”

The Trial of John Peter Zenger - John Peter Zenger (1738)

Containing the pleadings and arguments from both sides. Written in Zenger's perspective, it is generally believed to be written primarily by James Alexander, one of Zenger's attorneys. In 1733, Zenger printed a newspaper called “The New-York Weekly Journal,” which published articles that harshly pointed out the actions of the corrupt royal governor, William S. Cosby. Zenger was accused of libel for printing the articles. James Alexander and William Smith, Sr., were Zenger's first counsel, but the court found them in contempt and removed them from the case. “After more than eight months in prison, Zenger went to trial; defended by the Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Hamilton … The case was now a cause célèbre, with public interest at fever-pitch. Rebuffed repeatedly by Chief [Justice James] De Lancey during the trial, Hamilton decided to plead his client's case directly to the jury. After the lawyers for both sides finished arguments, the jury retired-only to return in 10 minutes with a verdict of not guilty.” It was “one of the most famous decisions in legal history, establishing the epochal doctrine of the freedom of the press.”

Guide to Happiness - Abu Abdallah Muhammad bin Sulayman (ca. 1750)

Written in a fine Maghribi (North Africa) hand, this manuscript contains two noted devotional works: Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Sulayman's “Dala`il alKayrat” (“Guide to Happiness”), “a collection of prayers and litanies in praise of the prophet Muhammed” and Muhammad ibn Sa'īd al-Būsīrī's “al-Kawakib al-durriyah fi madh kayr al-bariyah” (“The Shining Stars in Praise of the Best of Creation”), best known as “Qasīdat al-burdah” (“The Cloak Poem”), “a long poem in praise of the prophet Muhammad, so called because al-Busīrī in a dream recited it to the prophet, who then bestowed his cloak on the poet as a reward.”

Republic - Plato (1763)

First edition in English, translated by the Rev. Henry Spens.

"A Socratic dialogue, written around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice, the order and character of the just city-state and the just man … In it, Socrates along with various Athenians and foreigners discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man by considering a series of different cities coming into existence ‘in speech,’ culminating in a city called Kallipolis, which is ruled by philosopher-kings; and by examining the nature of existing regimes. The participants also discuss the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the roles of the philosopher and of poetry in society.” “The volume is Plato's best-known work; it has proven to be one of the world's most influential works of philosophy and political theory, both intellectually and historically.”

Fath Al Samad Aharh Zayd BenRaslan - Mohammed Ben Ziyad Al Waddah (1769)

Handwritten manuscript prepared by Ahmad Ben Abu Bakr in 1769. The original writer is a scholar in Islamic fiqh (knowledge) and jurisprudence within The Sunni Doctrine known as the Shafi`i Doctrine. His name is Mohammed Ben Ziyad Al Waddahi. This particular book was originally written in 691 AD.

1788 to 1795

A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America - John Adams (1788)

  1. Rare, first edition in three volumes. 1788
  2. An early edition of Adams' classic study published in three volumes, volume I only present here.

“Adams wrote this fundamental contribution to American political theory when he was the American ambassador at the Court of St. James. Published in London and immediately reprinted in New York and Philadelphia, the ‘Defence’ was a profound influence on the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the framers of several post-Revolutionary state constitutions. It also did much to familiarize Europeans with the novel political events taking place in America.” Another edition was published in Boston in 1788; no other edition appeared until almost the end of the century. “Adams's essay played a key role in the development of American political philosophy, notably in defense of the separation of powers.” “Its timeliness gave it vogue; but it is chiefly re-membered for the unjustifiable partisan interpretation given it in later years as an attempt to favor a monarchy.”

The Federalist - Federalist (1788)

First edition.

“‘The Federalist’ comprises the first collected printing of the 85 seminal essays written in defense of the newly drafted Constitution. The essays were first issued individually by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in New York newspapers under the pseudonym ‘Publius’ to garner support for the ratification of the Constitution. The first 36 numbers of ‘The Federalist’ were published in book form in March 1788, with the remaining 49, together with the text of the Constitution, in May of that year.” “The original plan was that James Madison and John Jay were to help Hamilton write a series of essays explaining the merits of their system, while also rebutting the arguments of its detractors. In the end, well over half of the 85 essays were written by Hamilton alone. Despite the intense time pressures under which the series was written ‘what began as a propaganda tract, aimed only at winning the election for delegates to New York's state ratifying convention, evolved into the classic commentary upon the American Federal system.’”

John Brown’s Family Bible - Bible (1792)

Two parts in one large volume with text in double columns and 20 engraved plates including frontispiece.

This is the first Bible printed in the State of New York (first published in 1778 in Edinburgh). A self-interpreting Bible, it contains the text of the Old and New Testaments, translated from the original tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised by Reverend John Brown. It was issued in forty numbers and took two years to complete. It was published by subscription only. George Washington was the first subscriber; others included John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, William Samuel Johnson, and Henry Knox. “The Self Interpreting Bible was Brown's most significant work, and it remained in print (edited by others), until well into the twentieth century.” “The idea that the Bible was ‘self-interpreting’ involved copious marginal references, especially comparing one scriptural statement with another. Brown also provided a substantial introduction to the Bible, and added an explication and ‘reflections’ for each chapter.”

Crisis Papers - Thomas Paine (1792)

First collected American edition of “The Crisis” (also known as “The American Crisis”), “printed in Albany as part of the first edition of the ‘Writings of Thomas Paine.’”

There are sixteen numbered articles in total. Thirteen numbers were published between 1776 and 1777 (as seen here), with three additional pamphlets released between 1776 and 1783. Paine signed the pamphlets with the pseudonym “Common Sense.” “Of the original thirteen numbers, probably only the first five were issued in pamphlet form, the others appearing only in newspapers.” “The pamphlets were contemporaneous with early parts of the American Revolution, during a time when colonists needed inspiring works. Paine, like many other politicians and scholars, knew that the Colonists were not going to support the American Revolutionary War without proper reason to do so. They were written in a language that the common man could understand, and represented Paine's liberal philosophy.” The pamphlets “bolstered the morale of the American colonists, appealed to the English people's consideration of the war with America, clarified the issues at stake in the war, and denounced the advocates of a negotiated peace. The first volume begins with the famous words ‘These are the times that try men's souls.’”

Rights of Man Part I & Part II - Thomas Paine (1792)

"First editions of these important pamphlets concerning the French Revolution and the English government (second issue of the first part of ‘Rights of Man,’ the first issue of which was suppressed on the day of publication).”

“[Burke's] attack on the French Revolution … infuriated Paine, who was chagrined by these statements coming from his former friend, the great liberal. He rushed into print with his even more celebrated answer, ‘The Rights of Man.’ Paine hoped this book would do for England what his ‘Common Sense’ had done for America … On February 16, 1792, Paine published a second part to his ‘Rights of Man,’ dealing an even stronger blow for a change of government in England.” Following its publication, Paine was charged with treason for seditious libel and he fled to France. At his in absentia trial, he was found guilty and the government used “the guilty verdict in Paine's trial as a sign that further prosecutions for sedition were possible. In the seventeen months following the trial, eleven publishers of the ‘Rights of Man’ were prosecuted, receiving prison sentences of up to four years. These acted as a prelude to the 1794 Treason Trials, in which a dozen reformers were indicted for allegedly conspiring to bring about a revolution.”
K-Staters: Read a copy online

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)

First edition “of the most famous work in the literature of feminism.”

“A rational plea for a rational basis to the relation between the sexes, ‘A Vindication’ called for equal opportunities in the education of both sexes. On publication, it provoked a violent reaction, partly due to Wollstonecraft's forthright style, though she attacked neither the institute of marriage, nor religion.” “Its chief object was to show that women were not the playthings of men but ought to be their equal partners, which they could be only if they were educated in the same way.” “Advancing arguments for political rights, she argues for the removal of traditional injustices of rank, property, class, and gender ... The key to freedom lies in the reasoning individual conscience, not in laws or dogma ... Wollstonecraft adamantly asserts that education inculcating reason will eventually emancipate all humankind from all forms of servitude (political, sexual, religious, or economic).”

A Political Catechism of Man - Citizen Randol of Ostend (1795)

Printed in 1795, the same year as the first edition, and published under the pseudonym “Citizen Randol of Ostend.”

The volume is laid out in a series of question and answer sequences. The author gives his opinions and observations as well as his reason behind them on the government. It was designed to discuss man’s rights on liberty of body, freedom of mind, security of property, and resistance of oppression. Citizen Randol believed that the parliament did not listen to the people and were conscious of their superior authority over the people.

1805 to 1846

Constitution of the Democratic Society of Friends of the People - Democratic Society of Friends of the People (1805)

One of two 1805 issues, both printed by W. Duane.

The Democratic Society of Friends of the People was an “anti-Federalist organization, taking its creed from the ‘natural rights’ theory of the Declaration of Independence.” They supported Jeffersonian principles. Prominent Democrats Matthew Lawler, Michael Leib, and William Duane were officers. Leib's activities in this Society ‘launch[ed] him on a political career … as a staunch, albeit violent, Jeffersonian.’”

Essays - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841)

First edition.

“This important collection of 12 essays includes his famous essay on self-reliance, as well as essays on intellect, history, love, friendship, heroism, art, compensation, and other subjects.” “Timeless, and without a trace of ‘dating,’ these essays are as readable, and to a considerable extent as much read, today as a hundred years ago. Their ethical inspiration and stimulation, their occasional startling phrase, their individualistic idealism, which stirred renascent Yankee New England to its depths, speaks with the same simple power and force in the midst of modern complexities.” “It is Emerson's essay on self-reliance, in which he strongly advocates standing alone behind one's own principles against the tides of conformity and society, which is perhaps his most famous.”

The Common School Controversy - Horace Mann (1844)

First edition.

Contains the “arguments and three letters of the Secretary of the Board of Education of the State of Massachusetts in reply to charges against the board by editor of ‘The Christian Witness’ and by Edward A. Newton. The volume includes extracts from ‘The Daily Press’ on the controversy.” “The Board and its Secretary, Horace Mann, were subject to ‘violent attack’ by ministers who insisted on religious indoctrination in the public schools.” Mann “had scarcely entered upon his progressive education program when one church after another began to charge him and the board of education with being responsible for creating a godless system of schools. With these charges came the demand that sectarian instruction, which had been excluded from the schools by an act of 1827, should be restored. Mann met these sectarian attacks with vigor, courage, and a final victory of great importance, not only to the schools of Massachusetts, but to the nation at large.”

Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848)

Second edition. One of eight known copies.

Commissioned by the Communist League and written by communist theorists Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, “The Communist Manifesto” laid out the League's purposes and program. “The Manifesto” suggested a course of action for a proletarian (working class) revolution to overthrow the bourgeois social order and to eventually bring about a classless and stateless society.

1845 to 1874

Address to the Legislature of New-York, Adopted By The State Woman's Rights - Elizabeth Cady Stanton Convention (1854)

Second issue of the first edition.

In 1854, Stanton received an invitation to address the New York Legislature on the legal disabilities of women. Stanton was not permitted to deliver the address in person and had “copies of the speech printed and distributed to members of the New York State Legislature. She sold the rest as tracts.” In the “Address,” “she argues for women's right to vote; married women's property rights; for the for the right of women to serve as jurors; for fair inheritance and tax laws for widows; for women's rights to share in custody of their children; and for the right of women to have an education.” The “Address” was adopted by the State Woman’s Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1854. “In the wake of her address, the Married Women's Property Law of 1860 granted married women the right to own property, engage in business, manage their income, sue and be sued, and be joint guardian of their children.”

Dred; A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp - Harriet Beecher Stowe (1856)

First edition.

“Stowe's second anti-slavery novel complemented ‘Uncle Tom's Cabin’ by showing the demoralizing influence of slavery on its white perpetrators.” “Written partly in response to the criticisms of ‘Uncle Tom's Cabin’ by both white Southerners and black abolitionists, Stowe's second novel, ‘Dred,’ attempts to explore the issue of slavery from an African American perspective. Through the compelling stories of Nina Gordon, the mistress of a slave plantation, and Dred, a black revolutionary, Stowe brings to life conflicting beliefs about race, the institution of slavery, and the possibilities of violent resistance.” “Although it enjoyed better initial sales than her previous (and more famous) novel, ‘Uncle Tom's Cabin,’ it was ultimately less popular. ‘Dred’ was of a more documentary nature than ‘Uncle Tom's Cabin’ and thus lacked a character like Uncle Tom to evoke strong emotion from readers.”

Emancipation Proclamation - Abraham Lincoln (1862)

First public printing in the “New York Times,” September 23, 1862.

A preliminary proclamation had been issued on September 22, 1862, (as seen here) after the Union success at Antietam had bolstered the likelihood of ultimate victory over the Confederacy. It was followed by a proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, declaring that all slaves in areas still in rebellion against the U.S. were henceforth to be free. The proclamation did not affect slaves in the border states nor in territory under U.S. military occupation. Slavery was not completely abolished until the adoption of the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution in 1865.

Gettysburg Address - Abraham Lincoln (1863)

First edition, rare first book-form publication.

“The Gettysburg Address, a few short lines scrawled, according to tradition, on scratch-paper … is one of the most cherished documents in the history of the United States. On November 19, 1863, Lincoln arose after Edward Everett's two-hour dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg and “delivered the ‘few appropriate remarks’ requested of him, and in ten sentences did unforgettable justice to the thousands of young Americans who had struggled with incredible bravery …” “In just over two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed the Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis, with ‘a new birth of freedom’ that would bring true equality to all of its citizens.”

My Life on the Plains - George A. Custer (1874)

First edition, with eight full-page wood-engravings by A. Roberts, including a portrait of Custer and four portraits of chiefs.

The volume is “Custer's autobiography, featuring his stories of fighting Native Americans on the Great Plains, a scarce classic of western Americana. Originally serialized in ‘Galaxy’ magazine 1872-74, Custer's autobiography of life as a cavalryman fighting Native-American tribes on the plains appeared in book form only two years before his last stand at Little Bighorn. Introduced by his sketch of the landscape and speculations on the history and nature of the ‘Indian,’ Custer's narrative begins with the expedition of Major General Hancock in the spring of 1867 and ends with the Washita campaign on the frontiers of Kansas.”

The Newest

Up From Slavery - Booker T. Washington (1901)

Published in the same year as the first edition.

The volume is a “fascinating autobiography of a self-made man's rise from slavery to prominence.” Washington details “his personal experiences in working to rise from the position of a slave child during the Civil War, to the difficulties and obstacles he overcame to get an education at the new Hampton University, to his work establishing vocational schools— most notably the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama—to help black people and other disadvantaged minorities learn useful, marketable skills and work to pull themselves, as a race, up by the bootstraps. He reflects on the generosity of both teachers and philanthropists who helped in educating blacks and Native Americans.” The volume “is listed among the most widely read autobiographies. It was originally published as a serial in ‘Outlook’ magazine … and was ultimately published in more than 12 languages."
K-Staters: Read a copy online

Oliver Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court of the United States (1952)

Transcript of Record of Supreme Court for Oliver Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

"In 1951, a class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiffs were 13 Topeka parents on behalf of their 20 children. The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation.” “The argument occurred in the Supreme Court in December 1952; the case was reargued in December 1953 and finally decided in 1954. This Record includes the Complaint, Answer, and other pleadings; Motions; the Transcript of the Pretrial Conference, at which Jack Greenberg and Robert Carter, of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, appeared for the plaintiffs—the parents of the Negro school—with local Topeka counsel; and, most interestingly, the trial itself, with verbatim testimony of witnesses, colloquy of counsel, and the ruling by the Court.” “This is the trial Record of the case that would overturn Plessy vs. Ferguson, erase the legal justification for segregation in public education, and pave the way for outlawing governmental sponsorship of invidious racial discrimination in all areas of American life.”