Thursday, June 29, 2017

For July 4th Weekend, Rare Book Cafe's hanging the flags and bunting!

July 1 is the start of the Fourth of July weekend, and Rare Book Cafe’s celebrating!

19th-century patriotic sheet music and other ephemera will be discussed and viewed. We’ll talk of books by American presidents (including the one whose 800-page autobiography never mentioned his wife).

Thorne Donnelley, whose summers are spent at the Rare Book School in Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, will tell of treasures on his shelves.

And we’ll be answering viewer questions!

Though driven by events, the American Founders were students of history who devoured books. Thomas Jefferson’s personal library was so extensive that, when the British burned the Capitol- and the Library of Congress with it- Congress bought Jefferson’s library as the cornerstone of its rebirth.

“I cannot live without books,” Jefferson wrote his friend John Adams in 1810. And as the last of his 6,487 volumes was carted away in 1815, he started placing orders for new ones.

241 years ago next Monday, John Adams wrote his wife,

Philadelphia July 3d. 1776

Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven Months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious Effects . . . . We might before this Hour, have formed Alliances with foreign States. -- We should have mastered Quebec and been in Possession of Canada .... You will perhaps wonder, how such a Declaration would have influenced our Affairs, in Canada, but if I could write with Freedom I could easily convince you, that it would, and explain to you the manner how. -- Many Gentlemen in high Stations and of great Influence have been duped, by the ministerial Bubble of Commissioners to treat .... And in real, sincere Expectation of this effort Event, which they so fondly wished, they have been slow and languid, in promoting Measures for the Reduction of that Province. Others there are in the Colonies who really wished that our Enterprise in Canada would be defeated, that the Colonies might be brought into Danger and Distress between two Fires, and be thus induced to submit. Others really wished to defeat the Expedition to Canada, lest the Conquest of it, should elevate the Minds of the People too much to hearken to those Terms of Reconciliation which they believed would be offered Us. These jarring Views, Wishes and Designs, occasioned an opposition to many salutary Measures, which were proposed for the Support of that Expedition, and caused Obstructions, Embarrassments and studied Delays, which have finally, lost Us the Province.

All these Causes however in Conjunction would not have disappointed Us, if it had not been for a Misfortune, which could not be foreseen, and perhaps could not have been prevented, I mean the Prevalence of the small Pox among our Troops .... This fatal Pestilence compleated our Destruction. -- It is a Frown of Providence upon Us, which We ought to lay to heart.

But on the other Hand, the Delay of this Declaration to this Time, has many great Advantages attending it. -- The Hopes of Reconciliation, which were fondly entertained by Multitudes of honest and well meaning tho weak and mistaken People, have been gradually and at last totally extinguished. -- Time has been given for the whole People, maturely to consider the great Question of Independence and to ripen their judgments, dissipate their Fears, and allure their Hopes, by discussing it in News Papers and Pamphletts, by debating it, in Assemblies, Conventions, Committees of Safety and Inspection, in Town and County Meetings, as well as in private Conversations, so that the whole People in every Colony of the 13, have now adopted it, as their own Act. -- This will cement the Union, and avoid those Heats and perhaps Convulsions which might have been occasioned, by such a Declaration Six Months ago.

But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. -- I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. -- Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

In another letter to her (May 12, 1780), Adams explained what the struggles of the decades- past and future- was for:

I could fill Volumes with Descriptions of Temples and Palaces, Paintings, Sculptures, Tapestry, Porcelaine, &c. &c. &c. -- if I could have time. But I could not do this without neglecting my duty. The Science of Government it is my Duty to study, more than all other Studies Sciences: the Art of Legislation and Administration and Negotiation, ought to take Place, indeed to exclude in a manner all other Arts. I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Painting and Poetry Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.

The preamble to the Constitution of 1787 had just such goals in mind:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Indeed, the afternoon of September 17, 1787- after the Constitutional Convention ratified their blueprint for America’s future, a sweltering summer’s work over which the Squire of Mount Vernon presided, he stopped in at a bookseller’s and purchased an English translation of Don Quixote. At a dinner with the newly-appointed Spanish ambassador September 11, the King’s emissary turned the table talk to Cervantes's’ great novel. Apparently intrigued, Washington bought a copy he could read, and it was in his 900-volume library when he died twelve years later.

Booksellers, authors, and readers have been at the vanguard of defending and expanding the freedom of thought and expression ever since. Join us to celebrate this Saturday!


Rare Book Cafe is sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. It’s streamed live every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT and features interviews, panel discussions and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page. Shows are archived on YouTube and can also be viewed on the Facebook page, and the Book Fair blog after their first run.

Hosted by Miami book dealer, appraiser and’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, the program features a revolving set of cohosts and regular guests including Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; ephemera expert Kara Accettola; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.

Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, click the show link on Saturday!

#RareBookCafe #FloridaAntiquarianBookFair #BookWeek #BeLiveTV #FacebookLiveVideo

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