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Lot 131

Early Pro-Chinese Treatise by a California Minister

131. SPEER, William. An Humble Plea, Addressed to the Legislature of California, in Behalf of the Immigrants from the Empire of China to this State. By the Rev. William Speer. San Francisco: Published at the Office of the Oriental, No. 68 Merchant Street, Printed by Sterett & Co., Pacific Job Office, 111 Washington Street, below Sansome, 1856. 40 pp. 8vo, original beige printed wrappers, stitched. Creased at center, wraps moderately wrinkled and with minor marginal wear, interior wrinkled and some leaves browned. The Union Theological Seminary (New York) copy with their old blue ink stamp, paper label, etc. on upper wrapper and their inkstamped accession number on p. [3]. Upper wrapper with author’s ink note: “With respects of the author.”

     First edition. Cowan I, p. 219. Cowan II, p. 604. Cowan & Dunlap, Chinese Question 419. Greenwood 768. Norris 3692: “Very rare.” Rocq 12262. Sabin 89256. Speer, the first Presbyterian missionary to work in China and organizer of the first Chinese church in the Western hemisphere, arrived in San Francisco in 1852 and established a weekly Chinese-English newspaper. It was at the office of that periodical, The Oriental, that the present pamphlet was printed. Speer’s field of labor expanded beyond religious matters, and he successfully agitated for the reform of Chinese labor in the mines, including repeal of the unfair mining tax against the Chinese. Here he points out that the Chinese are vital sources of labor in mining and other industries. He argues that the mining fees charged them be reduced to match that of every other miner and that the capitation tax on newly arrived immigrants also be lowered. In conclusion Rev. Speer states: “I can scarce hope for success as a minister of the gospel in leading them to adore our God, or love our Savior, as long as the present state of things continues.” ($400-800)

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