Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle, and Little Breeches. Black Interest, John Hay.
Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle, and Little Breeches.
Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle, and Little Breeches.

Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle, and Little Breeches.

Boston: James R. Osgood, 1871. Wraps. Stereotypical caricature of an African American in the first work by Abraham Lincoln's private secretary, John Hay. This occurs in the first of 2 poems, in which "Jim Bludso" sacrifices his life in order to save the passengers of a Mississippi river steam boat.

The Jim Bludso poem, written in the dialect of Pike County, Illinois where Hay grew up, describes Bludso (a white man) as "no saint"; a man with 2 wives, who nevertheless gives his own life to save everyone else onboard when his Mississippi steamboat catches fire. Hay describes the steamboat tearing along, "with a nigger squat on her safety-valve". Two engraved illustrations depict the black crew member in stereotypically racist style, dressed in rags, with exaggerated features. The illustrations by Solomon Eytinge Jr. (1833 - 1905), American illustrator of journals and books, notably Dickens and Tennyson.

The second poem describes the loss and miraculous recovery of a young pioneer child in a snow storm. These pioneering poems are written in similar dialect to the roughly contemporaneous poems by Bret Harte.

Original orange printed paper wrappers, with advertisements for John Hay's "Pike County Ballads" on rear wrapper. 12mo, 23 pp, illustrations. Front wrapper slightly dusty lower corner, short split along spine and front wrapper. BAL 7739. OCLC: 14577460 records one copy at Brown. Very good condition. Item #23555

Price: $275.00

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