In Search of “The Writings of Calvin Blanchard”

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The following advertisement appeared in the New York Tribune, on February 28, 1864:

DON’T KILL THE UNION.—POLITICIANS, STAY your vampirism, put off your diabolical raffle for Presidency and spoils (or play it only of empty form to satisfy the constitution) just this once. That raffle caused secession. That raffle is now the sole hope and dependence of secession. That raffle—that game of caucus and ballot box—is the most woeful delusion, and the swiftest and deepest social damnation that ever was or ever can be inflicted. Apropos, I have discovered the art of real, and perfect and universal freedom. I have written a book, pp 546, $1.75, by mail $2. Synopsis of do. 50 cents; by mail, 50 cents. CALVIN BLANCHARD, Professor of Religio-Political Physics, 30 Ann street, N. Y.

It’s a fairly representative bit of Blanchardian fun, but on first reading it  was intrigued by the mention of the 546-page book that he claims to have written, with which I was completely unfamiliar.

A bit more digging around in the newspaper archives turned up this announcement on the front page of the Tribune, Saturday, October 12, 1861.

But no amount of digging was providing me with a book called The Writings of Calvin Blanchard.

Meanwhile, I have been trying to get my hands on a last few of Blanchard’s writings that I have not yet read and so I was searching library catalogs for copies of a few of the more obscure titles that might circulate or might be available through digital reproduction. Most of the more obscure pamphets and broadsides are non-circulating, special-collections titles, but I found one in the that seemed to be in remote storage and bound together with a number of other items in a volume. Out of nothing more than random curiosity, I did a call number search, to see what else was in the volume, and found that the entire volume was made up of works by Blanchard.

And then an hour or so later, something clicked in my brain and I came racing back downstairs to take a closer look at this odd volume…

Sure enough! When I added together the listed page totals for the seven works bound in the volume, the total was 543—closer to 546 than I would expect to get by coincidence.

It appears that there is at least one copy of The Writings of Calvin Blanchard out there and that the contents of the volume were these previous publications, bound together with their original pagination maintained:

  • The New Crisis (1857)
  • The Essence of Science (1859)
  • The Religion of Science (1860)
  • The Life of Thomas Paine (1860)
  • A Message to the Sovereign People of the United States (1860)
  • Astounding Disclosures!! (1860)
  • Religio-Political Physics (1861)

At some point, I should be able to get a little help determining the order of the works in the collection, along with whether or not there was any new material added, but most of this mystery seems to be solved.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.