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

“A Portrait of Artifice, Duplicity, Haughtiness, Violence, Rapine, Avarice, Meanness, Rancor, and Dishonesty”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The December release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an illustrated multi-volume history of Jamaica published in 1774, an examination of the early-19th century slave laws of Jamaica and St. Christopher, and a two-volume history of Haiti published in 1830. 


The History of Jamaica (1774) 

By Edward Long 

A British colonial administrator, historian and author, Edward Long is best known for this three-volume work examining the governmental, legal, social, and commercial structures of Jamaica. Long also includes a survey of the island by parish and illustrations depicting several of the island’s rivers and bays. 

My intention is, to give a competent information of the establishments civil and military, and state, of Jamaica, its productions, and commerce; to speak compendiously of its agriculture; to give some account of the climate, soil, rivers, and mineral waters; with a summary description of its dependencies, counties, town, villages, and hamlets, and the most remarkable natural curiosities hitherto discovered in it; to display an impartial character of its inhabitants of all complexions, with some strictures on the Negro slaves in particular, and freed persons, and the laws affecting them; and to recommend some general rules and cautions for preserving the health of those who come hither from Northern climates. 

Long was critical of both the island’s administrators and the organizational system that allowed their malfeasance, writing: 

“A Portrait of Artifice, Duplicity, Haughtiness, Violence, Rapine, Avarice, Meanness, Rancor, and Dishonesty”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

“A Wild and Dismal Lament”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The December release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a collection of works arranged as a travel narrative by Catherine Hutton and two multi-volume publications by Richard Lemon Lander, explorer of western Africa.


The Tour of Africa (1819)

Arranged by Catherine Hutton

Catherine Hutton was a novelist, historian, and prolific letter-writer and receiver; over her 90 years she amassed a collection of over 2,000 letters from a wide array of correspondents. Her interest in such a diversity of perspectives is reflected in her approach to The Tour of Africa:

The design of the following work is to assemble together all that is most interesting relative to Africa; to bring whatever may have been described by different travelers, or mentioned at various times by the same traveler, into one point of view; and to form the whole into a regular narrative. It appeared to me that these objects would be best attained by creating an imaginary traveler, who should speak in his own person. I am aware that truth and fiction should not be mingled, and I have not mingled them. They are distinct, though they constantly appear together; the traveler himself being ideal, and all he recounts true, as far as the best authors can be relied upon.

This three-volume compilation contains accounts “of all the countries in that quarter of the globe, hitherto visited by Europeans; with the manners and customs of the inhabitants.”

Below are two of the maps Hutton includes:

“A Wild and Dismal Lament”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

The current release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three important perspectives on African Americans in the armed forces. John Henry Paynter writes of being a cabin-boy in the U.S. Navy and seeing much of the world in the late-19th century; Theophilus Gould Steward, himself a Buffalo Soldier, explores the role of African Americans in American military conflicts from the Revolution to the Spanish-American War; and Kelly Miller presents an account of the contributions of African Americans in World War I.


Joining the Navy: Abroad with Uncle Sam (1895)

By John Henry Paynter

I believe that the public generally desires to be informed somewhat of the personal history of the author whose work engages their attention; in deference to that impression I may say briefly that I was born at New Castle, Delaware, on the 15th of February, 1862, in the house where my paternal grandmother now lives. My father came to Washington…in 1858…having been given a place under the government. My mother, whom I do not remember, survived but a little while the birth of my sister, who in turn after a few brief months followed her into the angel land.

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

“The Shameful, Sinful, Cowardly, Brutish Deed”: Highlights from the American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The December release of the American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a history of Pennsylvania Hall, which stood completed for three days before being burned to the ground by rioters, a collection of dialogues for school children, including the script on slavery excerpted below, and an 1853 edition of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, which includes his views on slavery.


History of Pennsylvania Hall (1838)

In 1838, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society built Pennsylvania Hall to serve as a forum for the free exchange of ideas and principles. Three days after its construction was completed, the hall was destroyed in a fire set by an anti-abolitionist mob. The History of Pennsylvania Hall includes the texts of speeches given within its walls as well as this description its beautiful interior:

Behind the arch was a dome divided into panels, supported by pilasters and an entablature of the Grecian Ionic order, —the whole forming a chaste and beautiful arrangement. On this forum was a superb desk or altar, with a rich blue silk panel; behind this stood the president’s chair; on each side of this was a carved chair for the vice presidents; next to these were sofas; in front of which stood the secretary and treasurer’s tables, with chairs to match. All these articles were made of Pennsylvania walnut of the richest quality; the chairs were lined with blue silk plush; the sofas with blue damask moreen; and the tables were hung with blue silk.

“The Shameful, Sinful, Cowardly, Brutish Deed”: Highlights from the American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“The Torrid Zone”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The November release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a 17th-century magnum opus and a turn of the 18th-century scholar’s compilation of hundreds of works, both of which attempt to describe their entire known worlds. Also in this release is a history of trade with Africa which contains the texts of several ancient treaties.


Cosmography, in Four Books: Containing the Chorography and History of the Whole World, and All the Principal Kingdoms, Provinces, Seas, and Isles Thereof (1670)

By Peter Heylyn

In this ambitious 17th-century work English scholar Peter Heylyn attempts to give a detailed account of nearly every aspect of the world. Writing about Africa, he describes the origins of the continent’s name:

By the Grecians it is called most commonly Lybia…part of it taken for the whole; by the Ethiopians, Alkebulam; by the Indians, Besecath. But the most noted name thereof is Africa, which Josephus out of Cleodenus and Polyhistor, deriveth from Epher, or Apher, one of the Nephews of Abraham, by Midian the Son of Keturah. The Arabians, by whom it is called Ifrichea, derive it from the Verb Faruch, signifying to divide; because more visibly divided both from their own Country, and the rest of the World, than any other part thereof which was known unto them.

“The Torrid Zone”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“A Breed of Moral Vipers”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1921

The November release of Black Authors, 1556-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a guide for self-improvement, the autobiography of the founder of Latta University, and a collection of essays by the Bard of the Potomac.



The College of Life, or, Practical Self-Educator (1896)

By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D., Hon. Joseph R. Gay, and Prof. Irving Garland Penn

This self-improvement manual was written as a guide to African American success. The authors summarize their work, writing:

…portraits of many successful men and women of their own race, with sketches of their achievements in life, are given as examples of what may be accomplished through education, patience, perseverance and integrity of character. Many engravings illustrating Afro-American Progress are introduced as object lessons of the great advancement of their own people, impressing them with the fact that they must educate and elevate themselves if they would attain success in life.

This volume is intended as a Self-Educator and is in no sense a history or book of biography; therefore it cannot be expected to include the portraits or mention all prominent men of the race, nor describe all historical events. Sufficient portraits and sketches of successful Afro-American men and women are given as a GUIDE TO SUCCESS, and illustrations of places, objects and events are given for the purpose of inspiring ambition and as an incentive for the sons and daughters of the race.

Included in the “Contents of the Proper Conduct of Life” are sections on: 

“A Breed of Moral Vipers”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1921

A Violent Desire of Making Discoveries, or, The Passion for Traveling: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

From Afro-Americana Imprints

The November release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia contains a remarkable 18th-century history of the Age of Discovery, featuring abundant maps, charts and illustrations, and a dramatic 19th-century work about an around-the-world excursion, which was written by the first blind person to circumnavigate the globe.


A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels (1745)

This four-volume tour de force details nearly all aspects of the Age of Discovery. Its subtitle proclaims it to include:

every Thing remarkable in its Kind, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, with respect to the several Empires, Kingdoms, and Provinces; their situation, extent, bounds and division, climate, soil and produce; their lakes, rivers, mountains, cities, principal towns, harbors, buildings, &c. and the gradual alterations that from Time to Time have happened in each: also the manners and customs of the several inhabitants; their religion and government, arts and sciences, trades and manufactures; so as to form a complete system of modern geography and history, exhibiting the present state of all nations…

The work introduces the Age of Discovery through the explorations of Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and Ferdinand Magellan:

A Violent Desire of Making Discoveries, or, The Passion for Traveling: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“I Love My Country More Than I Love My Party”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The November release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a speech by an eventual vice-president of the United States in which he renounces his party. Also described below is letter by the second president of the Continental Congress to his son as well as a beautifully illustrated retrospective of life in antebellum Virginia.


Senator Hamlin's Withdrawal from the Democratic Party (1856)

By Hannibal Hamlin

Hannibal Hamlin (1809–1891)I ask the Senate to excuse me from further service as Chairman of the Committee on Commerce. I do so because I feel that my relations hereafter will be of such a character as to render it proper that I shall no longer hold that position. I owe this act to the dominant majority in the Senate. When I cease to harmonize with the majority, or tests are applied by that party with which I have acted to which I cannot submit I feel that I ought no longer to hold that responsible position.

Senator Hamlin made this request just six days after his party’s national convention in early June 1856. Hamlin’s Democratic Party had suffered heavy losses in the previous midterm elections and was now fracturing over the platform’s plank allowing an extension of slavery to the territories. Hamlin supported the Missouri Compromise and the Wilmot Proviso, both of which attempted to regulate the extension of slavery in the West and territory seized in the Mexican-American War. In 1856, the Democratic Party’s platform embraced the Kansas-Nebraska Act which effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise. 

Continuing with the sentiment that his party had left him, Hamlin resumed:

“I Love My Country More Than I Love My Party”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“Put a Rattlesnake into Her Bosom”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Mary Frances McCray (1837-1898)The October release of Black Authors, 1556-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an intriguing sermon by Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833), a former indentured servant and minuteman who became a groundbreaking African American pastor. Also included is the biography of Mary Frances McCray (1837-1898), a slave until her mid-twenties who became the first African American female preacher of the Methodist Church in the Dakota Territory, and a compelling slave narrative published in Canada by the little-known William H.H. Johnson.


Universal Salvation: A Very Ancient Doctrine (1821)

By Lemuel Haynes, A.M.

Lemuel Haynes was an influential religious leader and the first African-American pastor of a white congregation, first in Torrington, Connecticut, in 1785 and again in Rutland, Vermont where he remained for much of his life.

Prefacing this sermon on Universal Salvation, Haynes offers what could be called a universal truth.

There is no greater folly than for men to express anger and resentment because their religious sentiments are attacked. If their characters are impeached by their own creed, they only are to blame. All that the antagonists can say, cannot make falsehoods truth, nor truth falsehood.

“Put a Rattlesnake into Her Bosom”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

“Doubt, darkness and mystery”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The October release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes the autobiography of an African prince; an account by an African American missionary, sailor, and minister; and an early 19th-century murder mystery.


A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw: An African Prince (1774)

By Ukawsaw Gronniosaw

James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw’s own Narrative was the only major source of his life story until an obituary dated October 2, 1775, was uncovered in a U.K. newspaper:

On Thursday died, in this city, aged 70, James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African prince, of Zoara. He left the country in the early part of his life, with a view to acquire proper notions of the Divine Being, and the worship due to Him. He met with many trials and embarrassments, was much afflicted and persecuted. His last moments exhibited that cheerful serenity which, at such a time, is the certain effect of a thorough conviction of the great truths of Christianity. He published a narrative of his life.

Gronniosaw’s “trials and embarrassments” included being sold into slavery and brought to New York via Barbados where he was sold again. He would eventually gain his freedom, serve in Martinique and Cuba as a soldier in the British army, and, upon his discharge, cross the Atlantic to England. Gronniosaw’s slave narrative is thought to be the first autobiography published by an African in Britain. He begins his chronicle by describing his early life and inquisitive nature:

“Doubt, darkness and mystery”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

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