University Archives


First Edition Biography of Rev. Lemuel Haynes, Signed by John Brown, About an African American Minuteman, First to Lead a White Church

(BROWN, John) COOLEY, Timothy Mather. Sketches of the Life and Character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A.M., For Many Years Pastor of a Church in Rutland, Vt., and Late in Granville, New-York. New York: John S. Taylor, 1839. Octavo, original blind-stamped brown cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box. Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, a few leaves detaching, cloth with rubbing and wear but fully intact. An exceedingly rare and important copy, possibly the only known book with the owner signature of John Brown.

First edition of Timothy Mather Cooley's important biography of Reverend Lemuel Haynes, who fought in the American Revolution as a Minuteman, penned one of the earliest attacks on slavery by an African American, is considered the "first black person to lead a white church," and was a minister in Torrington, Connecticut, where John Brown was born and his parents were in Haynes' congregation, an exceedingly rare association copy—John Brown's personal copy, signed by him—in original cloth.

Born to an African father and white mother, Haynes was abandoned in infancy and raised as an indentured servant to a white family. After his release, he "lent his own newly gained liberty to the defense of American freedom" when he became a Minuteman, joined the Continental army, and fought with Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga (Bay in Americanism, 25). "In the army, perhaps inspired by his Revolutionary experiences, Haynes penned Liberty Further Extended, an attack on the institution of slavery… [later] he was licensed to preach at the Middle Granville church, possibly becoming the first black person to lead a white church." Following his ordination, "his first appointment was to the all-white church in Torrington, Connecticut" (Finkelman, Encyclopedia of African American History, 154).

"American race relations became the focus of Haynes's republicanism and evangelical Calvinism as he attacked slavery, oppression and… black Americans' loss of liberty and natural rights" (Saillant, Lemuel Haynes and the Revolutionary Origins of Black Theology). Haynes would have had momentous impact on John Brown, especially by founding his beliefs in the Declaration of Independence and evangelical Christianity. This rare association first edition, signed by John Brown, is also quite notable in that, at Torrington, where Brown was born, "among those in his congregation, were the parents of John Brown" (Aseng, African-American Religious Leaders, 99-100). Two years before this was published, Brown vowed: "from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery." The year this appeared, the same year as the Amistad slave rebellion, Brown began considering plans for leading a slave revolt. Two decades later he was executed for leading the attack on Harpers Ferry.

Haynes, in 1787, accepted the pulpit of a largely white church in Rutland, Vermont. In 1818, however, the church "voted not to renew his contract… Haynes himself explained that 'he had lived with the people in Rutland 30 years, and they were so sagacious that at the end of that time they found out that he was a nigger, and so turned him away'… At the age of 65 Haynes was again reduced to itineracy. He died in 1833" (Foner, Branham, Lift Every Voice, 60). In Liberty Extended, the early work authored by him during the Revolution but not discovered or published until 1983, he described slavery as "the monster lurking in our own bosom." Other recent discoveries reveal "Haynes preached the funeral sermon in 1821 for Lucy Terry Prince, the earliest known African-American poet. A contemporary newspaper account states that Haynes read a poem that seems to be his own composition and that includes the lines: 'How long must Ethaopia's murder'd race / Be doom'd by men to bondage and disgrace?'" (ANB).

Author Timothy Mather Cooley, a descendant of Cotton Mather on his mother's side, was a native of Granville, where Haynes served as young preacher after the Revolution. Cooley remained a minister of the Congregational Church for over 60 years. Frontispiece portrait with facsimile inscription as issued, and introduction by William B. Sprague. Includes printings of correspondence by Haynes, his controversial 1807 Letter to the Reverend Hosea Ballou, an 1804 Sermon delivered at Rutland, memorial tributes to Haynes, coverage of his dismissal from Rutland, his 1820 sermon, The Prisoner Released, and much more. Blockson 8993. We have found no records of books signed by Brown being offered for sale.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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