Seamus Dunphy


About Author: 

Seamus is an Editor who joined NewsBank in 2006 and continues to be an integral member of the Readex Digital Collections team. He currently leads a team indexing the Territorial Papers, curates derivative products, and writes blogs and training material. He received his B.A. from Marlboro College and remains a student of political science and economics. His hobbies include writing, gardening, and traveling.

Posts by this Author

The West African Coffin-Squadron: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

From African History and CultureThe August release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes multi-volume illustrated works by 19th-century Englishmen who detail their extensive explorations of Africa.


Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery to Africa and Arabia (1835)

By Captain Thomas Boteler, R.N.

From 1821 to 1826, Captain Thomas Boteler of the Royal Navy served as a member of an expedition to survey the eastern coast of Africa, during which time “he commenced a journal for his own amusement, and afterwards continued it with a view to publication.” Due to a series of tragedies, his work was published posthumously, nearly ten years after the expedition had ended. The editor of Boteler’s work offers this biographical information:

 At a very early age Mr. Boteler entered the naval service, with a degree of ardor and enthusiasm seldom if ever surpassed, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on the 5th October 1816. He continued actively employed in the West Indies till the end of 1818, when he returned to his family; but, soon tiring of a life of inactivity, he undertook a pedestrian tour through France and Italy, during which his enterprising mind was employed in acquiring information, and in perfecting himself in the French and Italian languages.

From African History and Culture

The West African Coffin-Squadron: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“This Is a White Man’s Country”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an English abolitionist’s perspective on the slave trade, a speech advocating for equal suffrage in post-Civil War America, and an incredible advertising circular for a book about Henry Morton Stanley’s adventures in Africa.


 The History of Uncle Tom's Countrymen: with a Description of Their Sufferings in the Capture, the Voyage, and the Field (1853)

By Humanity

Although slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833, Great Britain continued to import products produced by slave labor. Calling for an end to the importation of American cotton and the tacit support of slavery, the author writes:

The plea that we are compelled from necessity to purchase the fruits of the slave is feeble in the extreme. It is either from a willful negligence or postulated blindness on our parts, that we have so long allowed ourselves to become thus dependent, and we now wish to make a virtue of necessity; but of all evils under the sun, that of making vice commendable is the greatest. The Times of November the 25th, 1852, says—“Show me the man chiefly benefitted by this crime, and I will show you the greatest criminal.” If then the people of England reap the chief benefit, they are certainly the chief criminals.

“This Is a White Man’s Country”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“The Synagogue of Satan”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The July release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society contains a review of the debate before the Virginia Legislature on the abolition of slavery, a defense of the Methodist Episcopal Church’s position on slavery, and an essay interpreting the liberal philosophy that inspired the U.S. Constitution through the lens of religion.

 An Essay on Slavery (1849)

By Thomas Roderick Dew  

Thomas Roderick Dew was an educator and writer who served as the 13th president of the College of William & Mary. In 1832, Dew published a review of the debate in the Virginia legislature on the merits and ramifications of the abolition of slavery following Nat Turner’s slave rebellion.

Dew favored the continuation of slavery, arguing that laws should not be changed in the aftermath of a crisis:

“The Synagogue of Satan”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“Like a Tiger in the Toils”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The June release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a biography of the “Terror of Jamaica,” a letter from British slavery apologists justifying continuation of the institution in the Bahamas, and the descriptions of an English naturalist.


The Life and Exploits of Three-Finger'd Jack, the Terror of Jamaica (1801)

By William Burdett

 

To some, Jack Mansong was the most feared runaway slave in Jamaica during the 1700s. In fact, Mansong was so infamous his life has been the subject of several books, two of which became bestsellers, and dramatic performances, such as the musical Obi which had a run of at least nine years in British theatres. William Burdett’s work begins by describing Mansong’s early life in Africa and his eventual capture and enslavement:

Mansong, with gleaming saber, like a tiger in the toils, darted on the foremost, and cleft him to the ground. The weapons of his adversaries clashed over his head; but he heeded not death, and struggled hard to break the chains that encircled him. He still fought, and his blood streamed around; till at length quite exhausted, he fell, covered with wounds; and four of his adversaries lay dead beside him. The others bound up his wounds, and, with the rest of his party, sent him to the caravan of a Slatee, or Slave-merchant.

Burdett continues, writing of Mansong’s arrival in Jamaica as a slave, his unbreakable spirit, and his promise to seek revenge against his captors:

“Like a Tiger in the Toils”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

“Skin-Deep Democracy”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

The June release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes the portents of a West Indian astrologer, a scholar’s escape from being tarred and feathered, and the poems of James Madison Bell.


The O.B. or, West Indian Astrologer's Whole Secret Art and System of Prediction, by Planetary Influence, Laid Open (1823)

By Ignatius Lewis, the Jamaica Seer of Color

To his secret art and system of prediction, Ignatius Lewis added “charms, spells, and incantations; love presents, bewitching secrets, and fortune telling, by cards, dice, tea, coffee, &c. with good or ill fortune; the days, weeks, or months, of abstaining from, or embarking in, any engagement of importance, particularly marriage.”

On a lunar table showing “the moon’s influence over the female sex” are these potential experiences: “Loss of Reputation, Treachery, and Tears.” And, “What you save in trifles you will squander largely, and do no good with it.” And, “You will soon see one whom you will wish far distant but you cannot avoid the meeting.”

The influence of Diana may signify that: “You will never marry; or if you should, by some unexpected chance or turn of fate, embrace wedlock, you will not be happy, so be cautious.”

Another table offers these mostly frightful possibilities:


A. You will be run away with against your own consent.

B. You will elope with your own free will.

C. You will have many lovers, even in old age.

D. A duel will take place on your account.

E. You will place your affections on a very amorous youth, who will deceive you, and cloud your future days with sorrow.

“Skin-Deep Democracy”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Ascent of the White Nile and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The June release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes perspectives from an Irish pastor in Western Africa, the biography of a Dutch heiress who explored North Africa, and the views of an English soldier in Central Africa.


Missions in Western Africa, among the Soosoos, Bulloms, &c. (1845)

By Rev. Samuel Abraham Walker

Reverend Samuel Abraham Walker described himself as “a man unknown to fame, and of no higher standing in the Church, or the world, than the pastor of a small rural parish in Ireland.” Walker felt duty bound to become a missionary and offered this justification for choosing to work in West Africa:

It is impossible, I conceive, to overrate the importance of our West African Mission: its effects, if the Lord continues to bless it, will be gigantic. In other countries the Gospel merely calls out members of the Church; but in Africa it is enlisting whole regiments of Missionary soldiers, and sending them forth armed and accoutered, to engage in deadly conflict with the demon of superstition, crime, and death; and the facilities afforded for this particular work are among the most remarkable evidences of providential arrangement which the history of the Church of Christ supplies.

Walker’s tome tells of the peoples of West Africa, offers a history of slavery, and recounts, in Walker’s words, “What attempts have been made in modern times to make Christ known to the natives of this vast continent?”

True to his cause, Walker saw Christianity as a panacea. Expounding on the power found in the Christian will and in the word of God, Walker wrote:

Ascent of the White Nile and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“The Stronghold of Caste and Prejudice”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a striking collection of nature illustrations, an optimistic speech on race relations, and a biography of 18th-century scientist Benjamin Banneker.


Illustrations to Oriental Memoirs (1835)

By James Forbes

British artist and writer James Forbes traveled to India in 1765 while employed by the British East India Company. After years of extensive travel, Forbes eventually returned to England where he wrote Oriental Memoirs: Selected and Abridged from a Series of Familiar Letters Written during Seventeen Years Residence in India; Including Observations on Parts of Africa and South America, and a Narrative of Occurrences in Four India Voyages. This companion work, Illustrations to Oriental Memoirs, contains many impressive drawings, as seen in these three examples:

The Red, Blue, and White Lotus of Hindostan

These Water Lilies were drawn and coloured from nature: they are particularly described in various parts of the Memoirs, and almost cover the Indian lakes. When gently agitated by the breeze, they give them a beauty and freshness not easily conceived by the inhabitants of a colder climate.

From Afro-Americana Imprints

“The Stronghold of Caste and Prejudice”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“But for this Stain”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The June release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes hard-to-find imprints arguing for and against slavery as well as a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives defending the First Amendment.


An Appeal to the People of the United States (1825)

By A Georgian



The author of this appeal writes of the wrongs committed by “the corrupt…in poisoning the public mind” against the South and reminds readers that “the union was formed in a spirit of compromise” that included the recognition of states’ rights. He continues,

The right of property in their slaves and the right of representation in three fifths of that portion of their population, was reserved to the slave states. They are rights, which without their consent can never be alienated. They were left in possession of these states, which without them, would never have become parties to the compact. When they are attempted under any pretence to be wrested from them, the compact falls to the ground. Interference in any shape tends to a violation of this compact: because every interference depreciates the value of the slave as property, weakens the power which master possesses over him, and finally destroys it; when once this is effected, not only the property, but the life of the owner and his family is sacrificed to the relentless fury of an ignorant and barbarous enemy.

“But for this Stain”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

Sights Hostile to the Feelings of an Englishman: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The May release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several works that illustrate differing perspectives on the British presence in the West Indies, including England’s role in the slave trade and subsequent slave revolutions.


A Letter from Percival Stockdale to Granville Sharp Esq.: Suggested to the Author by the Present Insurrection of the Negroes, in the Island of St. Domingo (1791)

By Percival Stockdale

Percival Stockdale was an English poet, writer, and social reformer who opposed slavery.  After serving as a lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Stockdale became an ordained deacon and later took priests’ orders. As a priest Stockdale was well positioned to explore the world of literature and develop contacts with leading intellectuals and poets.

Stockdale’s letter is preceded by general information about the lives of Africans who were transported to, and enslaved in, the West Indies as well as the cost of the slave trade as a whole, a cost in human lives that remains staggering:

It is not exaggeration, to assert, that for one who lives to labor, for any time, in the West Indies, ten are destroyed.    

It appears…that if mankind, in general, were to die, in proportion to the mortality of the Slaves during their transportation to the Colonies, the human race would be extinct in ten years. Since this detestable trade began, nine millions of our fellow-creatures have been torn from their dearest connections, and sold into slavery.

  Sights Hostile to the Feelings of an Englishman: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

“Cast Down Your Bucket”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Booker Taliaferro Washington was an educator, author, orator, unofficial advisor to Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, and one of the most influential African American leaders of the period. Washington was born a slave in Hale’s Ford, Virginia, in 1856, and lived in bondage for his first nine years of life. After learning to read while working in a West Virginia coal mine and several years of part-time schooling, Washington enrolled full-time at the Hampton Institute and graduated in 1875. He spent several years teaching before accepting an offer to start a new school in Tuskegee, Alabama, where he founded what is today Tuskegee University. He spent much of his life making the university financially viable and academically respected.

The May release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several hard-to-find works by Booker T. Washington. Included are the first edition of The Story of My Life and Work, which Washington insisted be altered, and a rare imprint of a speech before Congregation Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Cast Down Your Bucket”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

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