Item #8796 Partially printed petition, signed by inhabitants of Lenox, Mass., against the admission of Florida into the Union.

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Partially printed petition, signed by inhabitants of Lenox, Mass., against the admission of Florida into the Union.

[Lenox or Boston, Mass., 1839]. Print slip (2.5” x 7.75”) affixed to lined paper with manuscript signatures (full size 13.5” x 7.75”). CONDITION: Very good, old horizontal folds. Three pin holes at top of printed slip.

An ultimately fruitless petition, signed by the townspeople of Lenox, Massachusetts, entreating the United States Senate not to accept Florida into the Union as a slave state.

Florida Territory already operated on a largely plantation-based economy, and abolitionists were rightly worried when it began seeking statehood in the late 1830s. The partially printed slip reads in full:

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

The undersigned, [Inhabitants] of [the town of Lenox] in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, respectfully and earnestly pray your honorable bodies, promptly to reject all proposals for the admission of Florida, or any other new State into this Union, whose constitution of government shall permit the existence of domestic slavery.

It is signed in manuscript by forty-seven townspeople, and docketed on the verso “Petition against the admission of Florida, No. of Petitioners 47, Lenox, Massachusetts, 1839.” Given that the partially-printed form includes the state, it is likely that this form was printed by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society and distributed to various towns in the Commonwealth—particularly since the first to sign was none other than James W. Robbins, who was Vice President of the Society from 1838 to 1840. Other signatories include George J. Tucker (later Berkshire County Treasurer and Registrar of Deeds); Oliver Peck; Charles Mattoon; Allen Metcalf; and forty-two others. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 allowed for the admission of Missouri as a slave state, and Maine as a free state, in an effort to preserve the delicate political balance in Congress. With the acquisition of Florida in 1821, parts of that territory with its large slave population began to organize around a plantation economy. When Florida petitioned for admittance to the Union, the balance of power in Congress was once again threatened. This petition made little difference in the end: Florida was admitted as a slave state alongside Iowa as a free state in 1845, another in the long list of ultimately disastrous compromises leading up to the Civil War.

Item #8796

Price: $3,750.00

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