Niles' Weekly Register, New Series No 14 Vol IV, May 29, 1819 Jew Bill
First Separate Printing of Brackenridge's Eloquent Defense of Religious Liberty for Maryland Jews [Brackenridge, Henry Marie (1786-1871)]. Niles' Weekly Register. New Series. No. 14-Vol. IV. Baltimore, May 29, 1819. [Baltimore]: Printed and Published by H. Niles, . 225-240 pp. Octavo (9-3/4" x 6-1/4"). Disbound, leaves starting to separate at ends but secure, moderate toning, faint dampstaining to corners, light soiling to a few leaves small tear to fore-edge of first two leaves not affecting text. $2,500. * Includes the first separate printing of Henry Brackenridge's speech in favor of Maryland's act "to extend to the sect of people professing the Jewish religion the same rights and privileges enjoyed by Christians," better known as the "Jew Bill." Like many other states, Maryland's constitution required public officials to profess "a belief in the Christian religion," barring Jews from holding any public office, including military service and the legal profession. The struggle to change the law was long and bitter. Petitions to the legislature were submitted by Maryland Jews beginning in 1797, but the bill was repeatedly defeated on the floor. In 1818, the bill was reintroduced and Brackenridge gave an extensive, passionate speech in its favor. Referring to the exclusion of Jews from office as "degrading" and "odious," he argued that the law violated the federal constitution and the founding principles of the nation, citing, among other sources, James Madison and Tucker's Blackstone. Despite his efforts, the bill was defeated again and would not pass until 1826. The speech was issued in pamphlet form along with the full text of the bill and another speech from Thomas Kennedy in November 1819, with the text of Brackenridge's speech taken from this issue of the Weekly Register (Cohen). Though there is no official record of the debates, a collection of speeches on the bill was published by Brackenridge in 1829. See Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 3516. Not in Rosenbach or Singerman. Eitches, "Maryland's Jew Bill," American Jewish Historical Quarterly 60.3 (1971): 258-279.
Book number 74975