Seamus Dunphy


About Author: 

A Readex Editorial Content Analyst, Seamus joined NewsBank in 2006 as a U.S. Congressional Serial Set indexer. He received his BA in History from Marlboro College and continues to study political science and economics. His passion for organic gardening stems from the lessons of hard work and sustainable living he learned on his family’s farm.

Posts by this Author

“Thy Chains Are Broken, Africa, Be Free!”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The April release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a collection of observations on tropical medicine, an anthology of poems by James Montgomery, and an assemblage of laws pertaining to the British West Indies. 


Medical and Miscellaneous Observations, Relative to the West India Islands (1817) 

By John Williamson, M.D.  

Dr. John Williamson was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, and had served as a surgeon for the Caithness Highlanders, a regiment of the Highland Fencible Corps.

In 1798 Williamson traveled to Jamaica where he remained for over a decade. Williamson writes about encountering specific ailments: “The yaws have been long a loathsome and disgusting disease, as well as an immense source of loss to proprietors.” And describes the need for reforming the administration of the island’s health services: “The hospital management of negroes being defective, improvements are suggested, to place these establishments on a foundation consistent with the comfort and welfare of mutual interests.” 

“Thy Chains Are Broken, Africa, Be Free!”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

“The Iron Hand of Persecution”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The April release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an English minister's examination of the "United States of America and of the European Settlements in America and the West-Indies," published in 1796. This work includes the color plate of a tobacco plant seen to the right. Also highlighted below are works printed in London offering two perspectives on the slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean.   


An Historical, Geographical, Commercial, and Philosophical View of the United States of America and of the European Settlements in America and the West-Indies (1796) 

By William Winterbotham 

“The Iron Hand of Persecution”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“We Are Recognized Citizens of This Nation”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

The March release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes Nat Turner’s published confession, the first issue of David Ruggles’ Mirror of Liberty, and a petition to the U.S. Congress for suffrage rights by the National Convention of the Colored Men of America. 


The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831)

Introducing Nat Turner’s confession, Thomas R. Gray describes how he acquired it and provides evidence of its authenticity. Gray was given access to the imprisoned Turner, who had been captured by “Benjamin Phipps, armed with a shot gun well charged,” and 

…finding that he was willing to make a full and free confession of the origin, progress and consummation of the insurrectory movements of the slaves of which he was the contriver and head; I determined for the gratification of public curiosity to commit his statements to writing, and publish them, with little or no variation, from his own words. That this is a faithful record of his confessions, the annexed certificate of the County Court of Southampton, will attest. 

“We Are Recognized Citizens of This Nation”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

“Power, Grandeur, and Oppression”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The February release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a compilation of travel literature written by several African explorers and two multi-volume works by Edward Delaval Hungerford Elers Napier. 


The Modern Traveller (1800)  

By William Fordyce Mavor 

William Fordyce Mavor (1758-1837) was a teacher, politician, and priest. Introducing his four volumes of travel literature, Mavor writes: 

Valuable as these productions are, yet the size and expense of the volumes preclude many readers of curiosity, intelligence, and knowledge, from being able conveniently to purchase such sources of gratification….To accommodate those who may be desirous of being acquainted with modern discoveries, without choosing to be at such an expense, the object of the present publication is to present, in an abridged form, the most remarkable travels and voyages, which have recently afforded important accessions to our acquaintance with countries and mankind. 

“Power, Grandeur, and Oppression”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“How to Solve the Race Problem” and other Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

The February release of Black Authors, 1556-1922 includes a work on class and race in Philadelphia published during the Antebellum Period, an examination of the post-Reconstruction South by a Barbados-born lawyer, and an early 20th-century solution to the race problem “by eminent men of both races and in every walk of life.” Among the African American leaders who convened at the 1903 Washington Conference on the Race Problem in the United States were the 18 whose photographs appear below.


Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia (1841) 

By A Southerner  

Joseph Wilson, using the pseudonym A Southerner, wrote about his adopted city in hopes of proving to the white community that the African American community also contained an upper echelon and to offer advice to the privileged members of that class. Wilson’s work is particularly notable because it is a very early account of class and race in Philadelphia, predating W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Philadelphia Negro by half a century.  

“How to Solve the Race Problem” and other Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

“The Deadly Fangs of Fierce Reptiles”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The February release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several 19th-century addresses made by African Americans. Highlighted in this post is an 1846 speech by Gerrit Smith read by the abolitionist and minister Theodore Sedgwick Wright, a Reconstruction-era broadside encouraging African American men in the state of Georgia to vote, and a late-19th-century collection of talks by Professor Daniel Barclay Williams, including his thoughts on temperance. 


An Address to the Three Thousand Colored Citizens of New-York Who Are the Owners of One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Acres of Land (1846) 

By Theodore Sedgwick Wright 

“The Deadly Fangs of Fierce Reptiles”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“A Land under the Curse of Slavery”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The February release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes letters of dissent from within the Presbyterian Church, a compilation of judicial biographies titled Atrocious Judges, and a reminder that America’s peculiar institution was not limited to the South. 


Slavery and the Church (1856)  

By Smectymnuus 

Writing under the pseudonym Smectymnuus, the author rebuts arguments presented by the Reverends Nathan Lewis Rice and Nehemiah Adams. He explains “Smectymnuus” is derived from the initials of “the names of five Puritan Divines, who wrote a celebrated treatise in favor of their principles, under this title, in a period of persecution…” 

Alluding to his own potential persecution, the author justifies shielding his given name, noting:  

“A Land under the Curse of Slavery”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“This Great and Glorious Country”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

The January release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a philosophical exploration of death and future life, a moving slave narrative, and the autobiography of the U.S. Army’s first African American nurse. 


Death, Hades, and the Resurrection (1883) 

By Theophilus Gould Steward 

Educator, clergyman, and Buffalo Soldier, Theophilus Gould Steward was born to free African Americans in New Jersey in 1843. This work was published when Steward was 40, eight years before he joined the 25th U.S. Colored Infantry and two years after he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from Wilberforce University.    

Steward begins Death, Hades, and the Resurrection by asking questions pondered since time immemorial: 

What is it to die? Do we live after death? Can anything be known of the experiences, and employments, of those beyond death? Is there any possible means of communication between the living and the dead? Is there any communication among the dead themselves? Are there any individual joys, or sorrows, among them? 

Steward turns to religion, specifically Christianity, to answer these seemingly scientific queries. He begins by acknowledging religion “has no self-evident axioms from which it may proceed, as science has; no list of experiments by which it can be tested beforehand; but claims Faith first, and investigation afterward.” But he then muddies that distinction: 

“This Great and Glorious Country”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

“Tribal memories, ancestral superstitions, and racial wisdom”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The January 2016 release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a Frenchman’s description of late 18th-century South Africa, a Briton’s account of early 19th-century America, and an African American’s early 20th-century compilation of folk rhymes.  


Travels into the Interior Parts of Africa (1790)

By Francois Le Vaillant 

Francois Le Vaillant was born in Paramaribo, Surinam, in 1753 to a wealthy French merchant. When he was about ten years old, his family returned to Europe where Le Vaillant would later study natural history and ornithology. In the 1780s Le Vaillant explored South Africa, amassing an extensive collection of birds from which he described many new species. This collection formed the basis for several multivolume works about the peoples and natural history of South Africa. 

 

“Tribal memories, ancestral superstitions, and racial wisdom”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“Hope, delusive hope”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Nathaniel Paul (1793?-1839)The December release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes two celebratory speeches: the first by Russell Parrott on the anniversary of the cessation of the slave trade, and the second by Nathaniel Paul in observance of the abolition of slavery in New York. Also included this month is an alluring tract by occultist Paschal Beverly Randolph. 


 An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1814)

By Russell Parrott

A relatively obscure figure in Philadelphia’s early African American community, Russell Parrott is best remembered for three speeches celebrating the abolition of slave trafficking. The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves went into effect on January 1, 1808, and anniversary orations quickly became a regular feature of the annual cycle of celebrations in African American churches.

After some brief prefatory remarks, Parrott opines: 

“Hope, delusive hope”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

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