Extremely scarce, First Edition copy of Slaveholding Examined in Light of the Holy Bible, by William Henry Brisbane (Philadelphia, 1847, 222 pages). Minister, editor, author, and doctor, William Henry Brisbane was a South Carolina slaveholder who turned abolitionist, moved north, and freed his slaves. He came to Wisconsin in 1853, settled in the town of Arena, and served as chaplain of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry in the Civil War. In this speech, originally delivered in Cincinnati and later issued as a pamphlet, Brisbane explains his transformation from a slaveholder to an anti-slavery activist. William Henry Brisbane, whom the Mercantile Agency (Dunn & Bradstreet) rated a failure in an early credit rating in the 1840s because he had inherited $100,000, and run through the whole fortune in just a couple of years. Upon closer investigation, what actually had happened in this man's life, it turned out that he had inherited a slave plantation in Beaufort, South Carolina, had come to the conclusion that slavery was wrong, had sold all of his slaves and moved to the North, and then was racked by guilt about the people he had left behind. So he spent his fortune to purchase back the slaves that he had sold when he left the South, and bring them north into freedom. So he's an example of someone who is truly a great emancipator, but financially and professionally ended up a failure. After the Civil War, he was appointed by his friend S.P. Chase, Lincoln's treasury secretary, to return to South Carolina as chairman of the U.S. Direct Tax Commission for South Carolina. His assignment was to confiscate the abandoned plantations in the Port Royal district and sell them for unpaid taxes and put the freed slaves to work on small farms. These were the plantations and farms of his family and former friends and neighbors, most of whom had fled the area. On New Year's Day 1863 years ago, hundreds of free blacks and former slaves in the Port Royal region rose to their feet in thunderous applause after the Rev. William Henry Brisbane read for the first time publicly in the country the legendary Emancipation Proclamation. Brisbane was a truly remarkable man.
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