First EditionThoreau, Henry David. A Yankee in Canada. Published by Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866. Original dark green cloth, sans serif titles to spine gilt, brown coated endpapers, boards blocked in blind with eight-point cornerpieces. This copy in the “B” binding described without priority assigned by BAL, unsurprising as a number of binding styles were used on the first edition with no precedence.
The volume recounts Thoreau's 1850 trip to Canada and includes ten essays such as the influential "Civil Disobedience", on the individual's responsibility to resist immoral government policies such as slavery and the Mexican-American war. Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery. The judgment of an individual's conscience is not necessarily inferior to the decisions of a political body or majority, and so "[i]t is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.... Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice." He adds, "I cannot for an instant recognize as my government [that] which is the slave's government also."Also included is "A Plea for Captain John Brown", first delivered as a speech in 1859 when Thoreau was one of the only abolitionists to publicly support the imprisoned Brown after the raid on Harper's Ferry. This essay helped to shift northern opinion in favor of Brown and radical action against slavery in the lead-up to the Civil War. With a later cloth protector. Binding tight and cloth fresh. A lovely copy, Thoreau's works are rare in such excellent condition. This timeless work was influential upon such modern luminaries as Ghandi and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (BAL 20117; Borst A7.1.).