slavery


‘A White Man’s Government’: Readex Introduces “African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883”

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Curated from the Library Company of Philadelphia’s acclaimed African American history archive, African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883, is a newly released digital collection of searchable books, pamphlets, and speeches. Its coverage begins with the conclusion of the Civil War and spans eighteen of the most formative years in African American history.

Reconstruction marked an end to slavery and a beginning to the enfranchisement of African Americans. Full citizenship, voting rights, land ownership, employment opportunities, and political participation were only some of the significant gains enjoyed, in theory, by African Americans during this period. Although these rights were granted by amendments to the U.S. Constitution and federal legislation, they were not, in practice, universally protected at local levels.


Using this new collection’s “Suggested Searches” feature, students and other researchers can explore these revealing primary source materials with ease.

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‘A White Man’s Government’: Readex Introduces “African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883”

‘The Market of Human Flesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The October release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a piece of travel literature describing America and its peculiar institution, a pamphlet bemoaning the ills of Reconstruction, and speeches and writings on the political aspects of slavery by abolitionist and senator Charles Sumner.


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A Tour in the United States of America (1784)

By John Ferdinand Smyth Stuart, Esq.

John Ferdinand Smyth Stuart (1745-1814) studied medicine at Edinburgh University, emigrated to America, and began his practice in Virginia. When the American Revolution began, Stuart, a loyalist, abandoned his home and served in the British Army. During the war he was captured and held prisoner, spending eighteen months in irons. Misfortune followed Stuart. After returning to England after the war, his pension for service was suspended. Moving to the West Indies, he was shipwrecked three times. Returning one more time to England, he learned his pension claims were too old to be heard. In 1814 he was knocked down and killed by a carriage.

Writing of his sojourn in America, Stuart recounts the country’s natural beauty but the charm of his prose is diminished quickly when he writes:

‘The Market of Human Flesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Readex Congratulates Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar Whose New Book Has Been Nominated for a 2017 National Book Award

never-caught-9781501126390_lg.jpgCongratulations to Erica Armstrong Dunbar whose new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, has been long-listed for the 2017 National Book Awards.  It is one of ten non-fiction nominees for this year’s prize which will be announced on November 15. Dr. Dunbar is the Director of the Library Company of Philaelphia’s African American History Program and the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University.

Never Caught was described by Columbia University Professor Eric Foner as “a fascinating and moving account of a courageous and resourceful woman. Beautifully written and utilizing previously untapped sources it sheds new light both on the father of our country and on the intersections of slavery and freedom.”

Readex Congratulates Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar Whose New Book Has Been Nominated for a 2017 National Book Award

‘The Grievances of the Fair Secesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an address on slavery by one of America’s Founding Fathers, a biography of William Pitt which contains a description of the Middle Passage, and a history of the 19th Colored Infantry Regiment.


 

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An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements on the Slavery of the Negroes in America (1773)

By Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) signed the Declaration of Independence, attended the Continental Congress, supported the American Revolution, and opposed slavery. He also founded Dickinson College, served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and was a leader of the American Enlightenment.

Rush viewed Africans as equals to Europeans and argues here that any differences are either products of slavery or only skin deep. He writes:

…we are to distinguish between an African in his own country, and an African in a state of slavery in America. Slavery is so foreign to the human mind, that the moral faculties, as well as those of the understanding are debased, and rendered torpid by it. All the vices which are charged upon the Negroes in the southern colonies and the West-Indies, such as Idleness, Treachery, Theft, and the like, are the genuine offspring of slavery, and serve as an argument to prove that they were not intended for it.

‘The Grievances of the Fair Secesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘Mutterings of Pent-up Wrath’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes examinations of slavery and the slave trade by a poet, an abolitionist society, and a Methodist minister.


 

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The Works of Hannah More (1835)

By Hannah More

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Hannah More (1745-1833) was a poet, playwright, and philanthropist. She was born in Bristol, England and became involved with the literary elite of London as her writing career progressed. More wrote primarily on moral and religious subjects and campaigned against the slave trade. This two-volume anthology of More’s writings begins with a note from the publisher:

When the veil of mortality descends upon splendid genius, that has been long devoted to the instruction and best interests of mankind, the noblest monument that can be erected to commemorate its worth and perpetuate its usefulness, is the collection of those productions which, when separately published, delighted and edified the world.

No writer of the past or present age has equaled HANNAH MORE in the application of great talents to the improvement of society, through all its distinctions, from the humblest to the most exalted station in life.

More’s poem The Slave Trade evidences such praise is well deserved. She writes:

‘Mutterings of Pent-up Wrath’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a clergyman’s critique of Thomas Jefferson’s candidacy for the presidency, a Quaker’s message to slave-owners, and an abolitionist’s speech from the floor of the House of Representatives.


 

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Serious Considerations on the Election of a President (1800)

By William Linn

Reverend William Linn (1752-1808) served as a chaplain in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and was the first Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. Linn opposed Thomas Jefferson’s presidential run for religious reasons.

…my objection to his being promoted to the Presidency is founded singly upon his disbelief of the Holy Scriptures; or, in other words, his rejection of the Christian Religion and open profession of Deism.

Linn turns to Jefferson’s writings to prove he is not a Christian. Linn quotes Jefferson casting doubt on a global flood and making reference to an age of the earth greater than 6000 years. He then quotes Jefferson’s musings on various races of people and how they compared:

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘This Execrable Commerce….This Assemblage of Horrors’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The May release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several editions of Henry Home, Lord Kames’ Sketches of the History of Man, a fictional account of the American South, and an extensive collection of Thomas Jefferson’s writings.


 

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Sketches of the History of Man (1775)

By Henry Home, Lord Kames

Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782) was a Scottish judge, philosopher, and writer. A central figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, he boasts David Hume, Adam Smith, and James Boswell as protegees. Introducing this multi-volume work, Home writes:

Whether there be different races of men, or whether all men be of one race, without any difference but what proceeds from climate or other accident, is a profound question of natural history, which remains still undetermined after all that has been said upon it.

In attempting an answer Home argues against the then speculative idea of evolutionary change over time and Carl Linnaeus’s earlier recognition of the hierarchical nature of species. Home shares with Linnaeus, however, the notion species are fixed according to Providence. Attempting to support his assertion, Home conflates species, breed, and kind before turning to special pleading.

‘This Execrable Commerce….This Assemblage of Horrors’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘The Vicious Qualities of Mankind’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Darton Tobacco smest.jpgFound within the March release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia are several multi-volume works including a collection of children’s stories, one of which answers, “What makes some people black?”; an American travelogue denouncing slavery by the British author of The Pickwick Papers; and a history of the American Civil War which discusses how “the name negro gave way to the new term contraband.”


 

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Little Truths Better than Great Fables (1800)

By William Darton

William Darton (1755-1819) was a London-based children’s book publisher and author. He introduces his two-volume work of juvenile literature, writing:

‘The Vicious Qualities of Mankind’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘Imagination! Who can sing thy force?’—Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Arch_Street_Ferry 2.jpgThe January release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes:

♦ a description of the first major yellow fever epidemic in the United States

♦ a collection of verse by an African slave who became a leading American poet 

♦ and W.E.B. Du Bois' first scholarly book—a history of the slave trade based on his Harvard University doctoral dissertation.


Jones Title Page.jpgA Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia, in the Year 1793 (1794)

By Absalom Jones and Richard Allen

Absalom Jones (1746-1818) and Richard Allen (1760-1831) were both born into slavery and through various transactions were subsequently separated from their families. They were also both clergymen; Jones, in 1804, became the first African American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States, and Allen, in 1794, founded the first independent black denomination in the United States, the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In this jointly-written narrative they describe the 1793 Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic and respond to criticisms of African Americans who assisted in caring for the sick.

They write:

‘Imagination! Who can sing thy force?’—Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

George Washington’s Runaway Slave

Never-Caught-jacket.jpg“Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge”—a new book about the risks one young woman took for freedom—was published yesterday.  Author Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Distinguished Blue and Gold Professor of Black Studies and History at the University of Delaware, explores not only the 22-year-old’s courageous escape from the Philadelphia home of the first First Family but also the subsequent efforts George Washington took over many years to have her recaptured. 

Writing about Dunbar’s new work, Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of “The Hemingses of Monticello,” says, “There is no way to really know the Washingtons without knowing this story.”  In a discussion at a recent Readex-hosted American Library Association event, Prof. Dunbar shared the story of Ona Judge:

 

 

As explained above, Prof. Dunbar’s sources include historical newspaper coverage spanning Judge’s escape “from the household of the President of the United States,” as described in a 1796 runaway slave advertisement, to articles such as this 1845 item reprinted in the National Anti-Slavery Standard:

George Washington’s Runaway Slave

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