Boston: Russell, Odiorne & Metcalfe, 1835. First edition. Small 8vo, original blind-stamped patterned blue cloth, gilt pictorial tooling and lettering to the spine, 192 pages. Spine a bit darkened, with a few spots of soiling; a trifle rubbed along the lower edges of the boards; some light, scattered foxing; a very good copy. Item #19100
Rebecca Reed’s sensationalist anti-Catholic account, in which she claimed to have escaped mistreatment at the hands of Ursuline nuns at the convent school (started to teach Protestant children) in Charlestown, Mass. The convent was burned to the ground by an anti-Catholic mob in August, 1834, and some blame for the violence was laid at manuscript versions of Reed’s story circulating through Charlestown. (The Committee of Publication of this account here includes a lengthy introduction in which they deplore the mob violence but discount any claims of injured innocence on the part of Rome.) Reed’s role in anti-Catholic mania and the rise of the Know Nothing Party was foundational, though would soon fade with the publication of Maria Monk and her awful disclosures in 1836.