Boston: For Sale by Bela Marsh, 1850.
Softcover. First edition. Octavo. 12pp. Original printed wrappers. Stitched text block separated from wrappers, last leaf and rear wrap soiled, very good. In 1846, George Putnam and other "colored citizens of Boston" petitioned the Boston Primary School Committee to abolish segregated public education, and to permit their children to attend the Primary Schools established in their neighborhoods. Black Bostonians attended the segregated Smith School. The Committee rejected their demands. Undeterred, they engaged Charles Sumner as their attorney and went to court but failed when the court ruled in the favor of Boston. The case anticipated Brown versus Board of Education by more than 100 years.
Sentiment in the black community at the time was divided. "Thomas P. Smith was a leader of the opposition among the colored people themselves to this abolishment. He had himself been educated at the Smith School and for two terms Phillips Academy, Andover." (*Sabin*). Smith predicted correctly that the Massachusetts Supreme Court would dismiss their claims. He notes that in Massachusetts "the man of color, outraged and degraded throughout the Union, here enjoys equal rights and equal privileges with the white citizens... I repeat it, 'the very best public school instruction in the world is ever at his service'." Smith called the "school-abolishing party... a motley crew of all complexions, sexes, and sizes, as sorry a set as ever came together... consisting of disappointed office-seekers, brainless enthusiasts, fourth-class lawyers and broken-down clergymen." He further stated that Sumner's co-counsel, Robert Morris, the first black lawyer in Massachusetts, was a "conceited, noisy and comical little fourth-class colored lawyer... a man of the smallest natural mind, and most narrow and deficient intellect."
*Sabin* 84410, *Work* 417. *OCLC* records nine copies.