DescriptionVictor Hugo Autograph Letter Signed. One page of a bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75", in French with an English translation written on the integral page, Hauteville House [the island of Guernsey, located in the English Channel], February 25, 1861. Addressed to George Francis Train (1829-1904), an American businessman who helped finance a portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the French novelist and poet gives his view of American slavery, in part:
"Your opinion . . . is true upon the first phase of slavery but it is not at all so on the second. It is evident that slavery wrested its prey from the Eaters of human flesh, but it has only progressed in regard to Canabalism [sic]. Whenever it finds itself in the presence of Christianism and above all of human reason it must abdicate under penalty of becoming monstrous. The persistency of the Southern States in slavery is the greatest moral deformity of the Nineteenth Century."
Train mentioned this letter in one of his Union Speeches which he delivered in England during the Civil War. In them, Train put forth the view that slavery had rescued the African from barbarism and, as a slave, he "goes to church, sings psalms, laughs, reads tracts, . . . and is the happiest laborer I have ever witnessed in my extensive travel." (Train's Union Speeches, pages 68-9)
Condition: Folds. Affixed in the lower half to a backing sheet. A 2" tear near the lower left corner has been repaired on the verso with clear tape. Staining at the lower edge touches Hugo's signature. Ink burning on the integral page has caused some paper loss affecting the text (as indicated in the transcription.
Reference: George Francis Train. Train's Union Speeches: "Second Series." Delivered in England During the Present American War. United States: T.B. Peterson, 1862.
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