Life and Liberty in America by Charles Mackay, in Two Volumes, Second Edition, 1859

Mackay, Charles.  Life and Liberty in America: or, Sketches of a Tour in the United States and Canada, in 1857-8. London: Smith Elder & Co., 1859. Second edition printing. Two volumes, octavo printings. In the publisher's original dark green striped grain cloth boards with gilt decorations, titles, and blind stamping.

Presented is a second edition 1859 printing of Charles Mackay’s Antebellum American travel narrative, Life and Liberty in America. In 1857–1858, Scottish poet and author Charles Mackay toured through the United States, traveling from Boston, to New York, down the Mississippi to New Orleans, the South, the West, and into Canada. During his time, he lectured and hobnobbed with soldiers, politicians, and the writers Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Hickling Prescott, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Once returned, Mackay wrote and published his observations. His biting wit and opinionated personality shines through in this intriguing work. With the aim of studying “life and liberty” in a slave-owning nation, his observations on slavery were particularly astute.  He also explores topics like freedom of religion and offers his impressions of American cities and everyday life. As a document of America just prior to the Civil War, seen through the eyes of an outsider, this is a fascinating and historically important book. 

A Scottish journalist, Charles Mackay (1814-1889) held an honorary law degree from Glasgow University, as well as a doctorate in literature. A renowned poet and songwriter, he is remembered for his 1841 book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. During the American Civil War, he returned as a correspondent for The Times, in which capacity he discovered and disclosed the Fenian conspiracy. He also authored a Dictionary of Lowland Scotch. 


Very good condition. In the original publisher’s dark green and light green striped grain cloth boards, with gilt embossed vignette of a flag, eagle, and liberty cap on the front boards, and gold embossed titles on spines. Blind stamping. With ten tinted Illustrated plates. Vol I: 343 pp. Octavo. Vol II: 336 pp., plus 24 pp of publisher's advertisements in the back. Octavo. Internally clean, binding is tight. 

Dimensions: 8"H x 5 3/8"W x 1 1/4"D (each volume)

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