New-York: Leavitt, Lord & Co. [et al.], 1835. Second edition. 12mo, original blind-stamped rose cloth, printed paper label, xxix, , 208 pages. Front free endpaper neatly excised. Spine and board edges sunned and faded; some light toning; a very good copy. Item #19235
One of the great early substantial works of American conspiracy theory, evidently expanded over the 188-page edition of the same year. "The writer entertaining these views has deemed it an imperative duty, at any sacrifice, to warn his countrymen, of a subtle enemy to the democracy of this country, and to conjure them as they value their civil and religious institutions, to watch the Protean shapes of Popery, to suspect and fear it most when it allies itself to our interests in the guise of a friend. *Mistrust of all that Popery does, or affects to do, whether as a friend or foe in any part of the country, is the only feeling that true charity, universal charity, allows us to indulge.*" The painter and telegraph inventor Morse was son of the similarly conspiracy-minded Jedediah Morse; the younger Morse was relatively neutral on the question of papists until a visit to Rome in 1830, when during a papal procession a soldier struck Morse's hat from his head with his bayonet and (as Ray Allen Billington notes) the "episode changed Morse's point of view. Heretofore his artistic nature had led him to admire the beauty of Catholic ceremony; now he saw only the harshness of a despotic religious system. His trampled hat was to make him a life-long opponent of Rome." Morse returned to America to find the Leopold Association--an Austrian-Hungarian missionary organization--hard at work undermining the foundations of the American way of life and "Feeling that his own European experiences had fitted him to speak with authority on this so-called Catholic plot, he wrote a series of twelve letters under the pen name Brutus. . . . The importance of the disclosures contained in these letters was immediately recognized. . . . Morse performed the important task of linking immigration and Catholicism and making both equally objectionable in American eyes" (Billington). Ink ownership signature dated 1835 on the front paste-down. American Imprints 33142; Sabin 50961.