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

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

“Mohammed the Languid”: Tales of Zanzibar and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The May release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes:

  • a history of discovery and navigation, with a focus on the Mediterranean and North Africa
  • a narrative of the search for the Nile’s source
  • and translations of Swahili myths and legends.

Historical Sketch of the Progress of Discovery, Navigation, and Commerce, from the Earliest Records to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century (1824)

By William Stevenson

William Stevenson was a tutor, preacher, farmer, public servant, and historian. His history of discovery is a tour de force covering “the earliest traces of navigation and commerce” from the time of Herodotus, 450 B.C.E, to the point at which “the grand outline of the terraqueous part of the globe may be said to have been traced…”

A larger proportion of the volume is devoted to the progress of discovery and enterprise among the ancients…especially that which comprehends the commerce of the Phoeniceans, of the Egyptians under the Ptolemies, of the Greeks, and of the Romans is illustrated with more ample and minute details, than the period which has elapsed since the new world was discovered. To most readers, the nations of antiquity are known by their wars alone; we wished to exhibit them in their commercial character and relations.

Stevenson’s enthusiastic approach to such a broad topic and his contagious thirst for knowledge brings his work alive. His opening paragraph simultaneously challenges and entices his readers:

“Mohammed the Languid”: Tales of Zanzibar and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Every country has its myths”: Selections from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The May release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a pair of perspectives on the customs of peoples of West Africa, works by Jules Verne on African travel, replete with richly detailed illustrations, and much more.


Trade and Travels in the Gulph of Guinea, Western Africa, with an Account of the Manners, Habits, Customs, and Religion of the Inhabitants (1851)

By John Smith

John Smith was a 19th-century surgeon and trading captain “to one of the first mercantile houses in England.” Smith made several voyages to West Africa where he came into “contact with a great number of the inhabitants” and “witnessed some extraordinary scenes.”

Though well-traveled, Smith’s own cultural assumptions are prominent in his account. In explaining his focus on a single West African country, Smith writes, “the inhabitants of one nation…will really include a description of many others, inasmuch as those different barbarous countries on the West Coast very nearly resemble each other in their customs, morals, and manners.”

Smith continued:

The author regrets the occasion of some coarse expressions and allusions to be found in this work; but, as the people he gives an account of are in so debased a state as to render the conveying anything like a correct notion of them otherwise, impossible, he deems any farther apology unnecessary.

Smith’s cultural bias, in this case specifically his religious belief, is also displayed in the introduction to a chapter on myths:

“Every country has its myths”: Selections from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“You Whine in All the Moods and Tenses”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The May release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a reply to a Confederate sympathizer’s claims of victimization, a lecture on the effects of the Civil War on national productivity, and a compilation of biographical sketches of Lincoln’s Cabinet officers, now often described as his “team of rivals.”

“You Whine in All the Moods and Tenses”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

“The Zeal of the Bigot”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The May release of the American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes rare items discussing the charge of religious fanaticism within the abolition movement and an economic approach to ending slavery by a future advisor to President Lincoln.


Immediate Abolition Vindicated (1838)

By Elderkin Jedediah Boardman, A.B., Pastor of the First Church in Randolph, Vt.  

Rev. Elderkin J. Boardman was born in Bethel, Vermont, on June 1, 1791. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1815 and later became a student of theology, graduating from the Andover Theological Seminary in 1820. Boardman was one of the first outspoken abolitionists in Vermont.

Addressing the Randolph Female Anti-Slavery Society on June 26, 1838, Boardman refuted the charge of religious fanaticism levied against abolitionists as merely a pretense to oppose a policy of immediate abolition:

Religion is now the same that it ever has been. Human nature is the same. And in the same circumstances, we always expect to see the same results. Whenever religion is arrayed against the leading sins and corruptions of the age, it is called fanaticism by the wicked, and its advocates, the disturbers of the peace, the injurious to society. We see an instance of this in our own times, and country; in which religion is directed against the abominations of slavery under the form of abolition societies.

Later, Boardman argued for the righteousness of the abolitionist movement, saying:

“The Zeal of the Bigot”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“The Disagreeable Practice of Shaving”: 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 history of the French and Indian War, a narrative of a global circumnavigation, and the diary of 19-year-old George Washington while traveling to Barbados.


The History of the Late War in North-America, and the Islands of the West-Indies, Including the Campaigns of MDCCLXIII and MDCCLXIV against His Majesty's Indian Enemies (1772)

By Thomas Mante

Thomas Mante was a historian and officer in the English army. He was also a spy for the French government. Mante was recruited by Jean-Charles-Adolphe Grant de Blairfindy in 1769 and became involved in British intelligence in the 1770s. He operated as a double agent until 1774 when the British, then aware of his disloyalty, ceased to pay him. His history of the French and Indian War is nearly as dramatic as was his life. Recounting the 1759 naval bombardment of French-held Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, Monte wrote:

“The Disagreeable Practice of Shaving”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

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