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    Robert James: Seven Handwritten Compositions by the Father of Jesse and Frank. These seven remarkable, philosophical essays, each several pages in length and possibly used as the basis for sermons, were written by Robert Sallee James (1818-1850), hemp farmer, slave owner, and Baptist minister, best remembered for being the father of the notorious outlaws Frank and Jesse James.

    Arguably the most important essay in this collection is that which is titled "Party Spirit." In this two page, 15.5" x 11" essay, James cautions against partisanism and eerily predicts the onset of civil war in America. He begins by denouncing what he terms party-sprit, saying, "No greater judgement [sic] can befall any country, than for it to be divided, by party-spirit, into two distinct people. It makes them averse to one an other [sic], than if they were of another nation. party-spirit corrupts the morals. A man may be virtuous; but by this malicious spirit, he becomes so prejudiced in behalf of one party, that he does every thing that is in his power to take the advantage of the other..." The divide between the Free North and the Slave South was as old as the United States itself. Tensions had been rising throughout the 1830s over the question of slavery and western expansion. James, witnessing the every widening gulf between the two peoples, cautions that "Party-spirit blinds us...When party-spirit rages to its fulest [sic] extent, it leads to war and bloodshed...a man becomes so enlisted in one party, he falls out with all that don't believe as he does, and when he gets into a debate with one on the opposite party...the others feelings become so excited, that he retaliates...Revenge and retaliation would increase til [sic] one or the other was slained...We have already seen some of its effects and it is increasing yearly. Let us then quench it before it is too late & if we let it extend too will be almost impossible for us to crush it..May God protect and preserve our happy country from such a spirit as long as time last[s]." James did not live to see the country tear itself apart as he died of cholera in the gold fields of California in 1850. His son's did not heed their father's warning and became partisan rangers during the war which led to their post-war career robbing banks and trains.

    With "Party-Spirit" are six other essays including: Military Glory. Two pages with integral blank, 7.75" x 10", April 7, 1842, concerning the influence of religion upon man and its positive effect on "heathen nations." [and:] The Mutual Dependence of Nations on Each Other. Three integral pages, 7.75" x 12.5", n. d. [circa 1842], James theorizes that if one nation acts in rebellion against the " of dependence, the whole is involved in ruine [sic]." [and:] Prayer. Two integral pages, 7.75" x 9.25", April 22, 1842, regarding the importance of prayer. [and:] On the Happiness of Independence. Three integral pages, 8" x 10", September 15, 1841. [and:] Music. Two integral pages, 7.75" x 9.75", March 26, 1842, preaching the benefits of music on the human soul. [and:] The Love of Fame. Two integral pages, 7.75" x 9.5", February 3, 1843, comparing the fame seeking individual with nations vying for power. Three small burn holes are found through both pages.

    With original envelope in Lawrence Barr's had marked: "Great Grandpa James letters & essays." All but one are signed, some multiple times, to a total of ten signatures. All are in basically the same condition. Text is faded in parts; light water damage has obscured some of the text. Edges are chipped and folds are weak with some separation. Scattered foxing and toning.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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