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Frederick Grimké, Considerations Upon the Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions, 1856 Edition

Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi borrowed an earlier edition of this title from the Library of Congress in 1851. A tome on political institutions, including slavery, it reflected the prejudices of the era regarding race. Members of Congress, like other Americans, held vastly differing beliefs and opinions on race and slavery, from ardent abolitionists to slavery’s vehement defenders.

General Collections, Library of Congress

Frederick Grimké, Considerations Upon the Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions, 1856 Edition Frederick Grimké, Considerations Upon the Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions, 1856 Edition

The Library of Congress

Thomas Jefferson believed “there is…no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.” His broad approach to book collecting shaped the holdings of the Library of Congress, which Congress originally established as a resource for its members. Many senators and representatives—including some who left to join the Confederacy and others who remained loyal to the Union—were voracious readers, with interests encompassing history, poetry, art, and literature as well as law and politics.