December 13, 1895 handwritten 2-page letter from Benjamin Drew (Plymouth, MA) to his nephew, who is opening a museum (Bangs) in Demorest, GA. In the letter Drew is responding to his nephew's request for artifacts and images from his travels around the world -- images from China, Indian relics, piece of Plymouth Rock, a piece of timber from the wreck of the "Sparrowhawk." Drew also reminisces about the few years in the 1850s when he was Principal of the St. Paul, Minnesota public school system. He also talks about the school that was named after him in St. Paul. Very newsy and personal.
-- Two First Edition hard-to-find copies (1856) of Benjamin Drew's book, The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada. Published by John P. Jewett and Company, Boston.
-- Rare book by Benjamin Drew, -- Hints and Helps For Those Who Write, Print, Teach, Read or Learn. Published in 1891 by Lee & Shepard Publishers, Boston. 214 pages. Brown hard-covered book in fair condition. Shows the broad interests of Drew.
-- BACKGROUND: Benjamin Drew (1812-1903) was an American abolitionist from Boston who, in the mid-1850s, traveled throughout Upper Canada interviewing scores of refugees from the American slave states. He transcribed their narratives and published them in 1856 in a book entitled The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada. Drew's work was made possible thanks to the support of the Canadian Anti-Slavery Society and John P. Jewett, a renowned anti-slavery sympathizer from Boston who had unexpectedly reaped a fortune from publishing Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852. At the time, there were about 30,000 African-Americans in Upper Canada. One of the escaped slaves that Drew interviewed was Harriet Tubman, who was based in St. Catharines but made several trips to the south to lead slaves to freedom in Canada. Drew protected the identity of many of his informants and used fictitious names for reasons of safety. His publisher, John P. Jewett, vouched for Drew's integrity and intelligence. Long out of print, Drew's book is the only collection exclusively about fugitive slaves in Canada. It is an invaluable record of early black Canadian experience.