Three letters, 1846-1872, added to the papers of South Carolina College’s first professor of history and political economy Francis Lieber (1800-1872), are addressed to Elliot C[hristopher] Cowdin (1819-1880), an influential Northern businessman who worked in the silk trade and lived alternately between New York and Paris.
Lieber’s letter of 10 October 1846 declines an invitation to speak at the Mercantile Library Association of Boston, stating that “official engagements” would not permit him to be absent from Columbia. A second letter, written 19 January 1866 on letterhead of the War Department, Archive Office, Washington, D.C., requests from Cowdin the address for “his Chinese Excellency.”
The final letter, 29 February 1872, thanks Cowdin for having sent a copy of his publication France in 1870-71: An Address, Delivered Before the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and advises that he forward copies to A.R. Spofford, Librarian of Congress, the Astor Library, and other libraries. “These things,” Lieber suggested, “often most important, nevertheless go down the stream of time like a straw on the Mississippi never to be received.” While referencing one of his papers that had recently appeared in Europe, Lieber noted—“As to Communism I wish you would read my Essays on Labour and Property first published in 1841, when Mr. [Orestes A.] Brownson [(1803–1876)], the Unitarian minister...wrote what he intended to be an election pamphlet ["The Laboring Classes," on behalf of incumbent president, Martin Van Buren] in favour of the lapse of private property into the common fund at the death of each person—some non-sensical communism[.] I have read of late my book again when I found it adverted to in Italy, and did not find it bad.”