Afro-Americana Imprints


“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

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2016

In this issue, Professor Joycelyn Moody challenges students in a Spring 2015 graduate seminar to collaboratively craft articles fueled by discoveries within Afro-Americana Imprints. Moody discusses the students’ work in the context of black/white relations post-Ferguson. The three student-written articles—also published here—focus on female interracial activism, the subtext of Christian abolitionist works, and the motives of 19th-century benefactors.


Unlearning from Uncle Tom's Cabin in Black Literary Studies After Ferguson: Perspectives from a Graduate Seminar Utilizing Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922 

By Joycelyn Moody, Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature, University of Texas at San Antonio

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2016

“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

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

“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

“Into the inner life of the Negro Race”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Louis Hughes (1832-1913). From Black AuthorsThe September release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes Louis Hughes’ heart-pounding and heart-wrenching autobiography as well as several works of fiction by prolific author Sutton Elbert Griggs.

Thirty Years a Slave: From Bondage to Freedom: The Institution of Slavery as Seen on the Plantation and in the Home of the Planter (1897)

By Louis Hughes

In 1832, Louis Hughes was born a slave on a plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia. Writing of his early life, Hughes quickly captures his readers’ attention:

My father was a white man and my mother a negress, the slave of one John Martin. I was a mere child, probably not more than six years of age, as I remember, when my mother, two brothers and myself were sold to Dr. Louis, a practicing physician in the village of Scottsville.

After the doctor’s death, the family is again sold and eventually separated. Hughes writes movingly about the last time he saw his mother:

…she bade me good-bye with tears in her eyes, saying: “My son, be a good boy; be polite to every one, and always behave yourself properly.” It was sad to her to part with me, though she did not know that she was never to see me again, for my master had said nothing to her regarding his purpose and she only thought, as I did, that I was hired to work on the canal-boat, and that she should see me occasionally. But alas! We never met again. I can see her form still as when she bade me good-bye. That parting I can never forget.

“Into the inner life of the Negro Race”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

“A Vitiated Education”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes works examining subjects ranging from the Biblical origins of African peoples to the social and economic progress of African Americans. Also found this month is a collection of dialect poetry by Elliott Blaine Henderson, a contemporary of Paul Laurence Dunbar.


A Sketch of the Origin of the Colored Man: His Great Renown; His Downfall and Oppression; Also, the Prejudice Which Did Exist, and Still Exists to a Certain Extent, Against Him (1882)

By Charles Griffin

An irrepressible, active desire to do something to elevate my race to an honorable and equal position among the enlightened quarters of the globe has been the great leading principal [sic] that has actuated me in the preparation of this pamphlet. And so well convinced am I, that this plan which I have proposed is the only practical one for achieving the desired end, that I certainly hope to see it prosecuted with energy and zeal, until the recognition of my race shall be firmly established as those of other races in America. 

Thus begins Charles Griffin’s historical account of the peoples of Africa. After tracing their origins as far back as Ham, the youngest son of Noah, Griffin turns his attention to the condition of African Americans in the late 19th century and the cause of the prejudice against them:

“A Vitiated Education”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

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

“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

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