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1848 'The Branded Hand' by John Greenleaf Whittier - Extremely RARE

1848 'The Branded Hand' by John Greenleaf Whittier - Extremely RARE


This is an unbelievable and amazingly rare anti-slavery pamphlet called 'The Branded Hand'. It was written and distributed in 1848 and recounted the story of Captain Jonathan Walker. 
In the early 1840s, Walker, a New England tradesman and sea captain moved from Massachusetts to Pensacola, FL and became known as a man who treated freemen and slaves with respect. By the time of this event, Walker owned a 12 ton whaler and on that light in 1844, Walker was approached by seven slaves who begged him to take them to the Bahamas and freedom. Walker agreed and all went well until Walker, who was already feeling ill, became so sick that he had to retire to his cabin during the trip. His ship was seized by a government vessel when they became suspicious of a ship being sailed by a crew of black men with no white man in evidence. Walker, the slaves, and the ship were returned to Pensacola and  Walker was made to stand trial. He was put in a pillory for an hour where he was pelted with eggs and rotten food, then had his hand branded with 'SS' for slave stealer. He was then thrown in prison for 15 months in a dank and cold cell with no bed, table, or chair but was made to sit on the stone floor while shackled. He was eventually released when other like-minded people heard of his plight and demanded he be released. After recovering his health, he traveled the country as an abolitionist and told his story, and that of the seven men he tried to save, over and over again to all who would listen to him. After interest in his story died down, Walker did not remain in Florida nor did he go back to Massachusetts but moved to Muskegon, MIchigan where he spent the rest of his life living on a farm with no access to the outside world. During this time he became a vegetarian, farmed the land, and fished with his grandchildren before dying at 79. Over 6,000 people attended his funeral and he was much beloved. At the time, thousands said that the letters 'SS' actually stood for 'slave savior' for the only white man ever branded for trying to help his fellow men escape from slavery. 

In 1846, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote the poem 'The Man with The Branded Hand' which was then circulated as an anti-slavery pamphlet and later developed into a book. In 1877, Whittier wrote that “He should not be forgotten in the woods of Michigan, who suffered for freedom.” 

I cannot state enough the rarity and excellent condition of this amazing piece of American (and abolitionist) history that was not meant to survive as it is written on very thin and delicate paper. More information on this story can  be found here:

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