Afro-Americana Imprints


The “Unhallowed, Demoralizing and Blighting Influences” of Slavery

The December release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes documents on an arresting array of subjects. Highlighted here are imprints about natural history, a religious justification of slavery, judicial opinions in the Dred Scott case, and a critique of a work of Reconstruction-era fiction.



A General Introduction to the Natural History of Mammiferous Animals, with a Particular View of the Physical History of Man, and the More Closely Allied Genera of the Order Quadrumana, or Monkeys (1841)
By William Charles Linnaeus Martin

This voluminous work ranges over many topics and includes this brief foray into phrenology.  

The “Unhallowed, Demoralizing and Blighting Influences” of Slavery

19th-Century Illustrations of African Americans by E.W. Kemble

Most famous for illustrating the first edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Edward Winsor Kemble was highly regarded for his compassionate images of African Americans. Many of these illustrations can be found within Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia. Below are a few examples of Kemble's artwork from a diverse selection of books published at the end of the 19th century:

From Our Phil and Other Stories (1889) by Katharine Floyd Dana, who published more widely under the pen name Olive A. Wadsworth:
 
19th-Century Illustrations of African Americans by E.W. Kemble

Rebellion, Riot, and Mutiny: Compelling Criminal Trials in Afro-Americana Imprints

A recent release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, includes compelling accounts of several significant criminal trials. Five of these, spanning the years 1824 to 1851, are highlighted below.

Statement of the proceedings of the directors of the London Missionary Society, in the case of Rev. John Smith, missionary, Demerara. Extracted from the Missionary chronicle for March 1824 (1824)

Rebellion, Riot, and Mutiny: Compelling Criminal Trials in Afro-Americana Imprints

An African Queen, Inside Monticello, a Reconstructionist Reversal, and Recollections of an Underground Railroad Conductor: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes descriptions of the Kingdom of Matamba and its powerful Queen Anna Zingha; the private life of Thomas Jefferson, as recalled in the 1860s by a former chief overseer; South Carolina during Reconstruction, recorded by the Washington correspondent of the New York Tribune; and the Underground Railroad, written by a former conductor. This release also includes In the Wilds of Africa, an exciting adventure tale replete with detailed illustrations.

Memoirs of Celebrated Women of All Countries (1834)
By Laure Junot, Duchess of Abrantes

Laure Junot, Duchess of Abrantes was an early 19th century French writer known for her attractiveness, extravagance, and sharp tongue. In this volume, Junot includes a biography of Anna Zingha, Queen of the Kingdom of Matamba, located in what is now Angola. Junot covers Queen Zingha’s rise to power and struggle with the Portuguese for control of her country. She describes the funeral ceremony for Zingha’s father in graphic detail:
An African Queen, Inside Monticello, a Reconstructionist Reversal, and Recollections of an Underground Railroad Conductor: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Anti-Slavery Activists, New York Politics, and Formation of the Republican Party: Selected Items from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

One hundred and sixty years ago, on July 6, 1854, the first official party convention of the Republican Party was held in Jackson, Michigan. The party was founded in the Northern states by, among others, anti-slavery activists and ex-Whigs who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Whig Party, established in 1833, had become divided over the question of whether to allow the expansion of slavery into the territories. By 1855 the party was collapsing as many of its members joined the new Republican Party or the American Party, which had formed that year around the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic movement known as the Know-Nothings.  

United States Senatorial Question (1855)
Speeches Delivered in the Assembly of the State of New-York...in Exposition of the Oaths, Obligations, and Rituals of the Know-Nothings, during the Debate on the United States Senatorial Question, February 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, 1855
Anti-Slavery Activists, New York Politics, and Formation of the Republican Party: Selected Items from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Slowly Shifting Winds of Change: Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints

By the middle of the 19th century many countries had signed treaties for the abolition of the slave trade. Included in the June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia are treaties between Great Britain and several other countries, namely Venezuela, Haiti, Chile, Ecuador, Belgium, and, finally, the United States. The sentiment behind the changing international political atmosphere was shared by many, but, as seen in additional highlights from this release, was also slow to spread and remained far from universal.



Treaty between Her Majesty and the Republick of Venezuela, for the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1840)

 

Convention between Her Majesty and the Republick of Hayti...for the More Effectual Suppression of the Slave Trade (1841)

Slowly Shifting Winds of Change: Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints

Tales of Travel and Adventure: Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The May release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several works that provide an outsider’s perspective on subjects ranging from 17th-century Spanish rule of the New World to mid-19th century American life to the slave trade as seen by an unsuspecting sailor.

The English-American his Travail by Sea and Land: or, A New Survey of the West-India's, Containing a Journall of Three Thousand and Three Hundred Miles within the Main Land of America (1648)
By Thomas Gage

Published more than 350 years ago, Thomas Gage’s description of the New World is the first English-language work of its kind. Although Gage included important information about the language and customs of indigenous people, his primary objective was convincing Oliver Cromwell to invade Spanish America. In addition to using the brutality of Spanish rulers as a moral justification for invasion, Gage provided a perhaps more persuasive economic incentive. A poem included in the preface concludes with these lines:

To Lands inrich’d with gold, with pearls and gems,
But above all, where many thousands stay
Of wronged Indians, whom you shall set free
From Spanish yoke, and Rome’s idolatry.

Tales of Travel and Adventure: Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The Hermit of Massachusetts and Other Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The April release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes autobiographies by slaves as well as by an abolitionist, a detailed description of the Yoruba people of West Africa, and much more.

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1816)
By Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano’s story includes his kidnapping in Africa, the horrors of a slave ship, and his wonderment at snow upon his arrival in England. He goes on to describe how he survived a naval battle, a shipwreck in the West Indies, and two earthquakes. Equiano’s autobiography is an adventure tale fit for Hollywood.

Life and Adventures of Robert, the Hermit of Massachusetts, Who Has Lived 14 Years in a Cave, Secluded from Human Society (1829)
By Robert Voorhis
The Hermit of Massachusetts and Other Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Afro-Americana Imprints in the Classroom: A Special Issue of The Readex Report (April 2014)

In this issue: A professor challenges her graduate students to craft historical narratives fueled by discoveries within Afro-Americana Imprints; their inspired articles reveal the potent research potential of a unique resource.

Dirty Searching and Roundabout Paths: Using Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, in a Master’s Level Seminar
By Susanna Ashton, Professor, American Literature, Clemson University

Would you consider sealing your next envelope with a sticker that read: “Be not partakers in other men’s sins.” More pointedly if you received such a missive, by ripping the seal would you be endorsing or decrying the maxim? I’m not sure, myself. But I was glad to learn about and see the page of gummed Abolitionist labels that my student placed within the discourse of indulgence and sin during the nineteenth century.

Afro-Americana Imprints in the Classroom: A Special Issue of The Readex Report (April 2014)

Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints (February 2014)

Spiritualism in the Lincoln White House? Woman suffrage as the key to white supremacy? The February release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia unearths these and other historical items for scholarly re-examination.

The Creole Case, and Mr. Webster's Despatch; with the Comments of the N.Y. American (1842)

Attributed to William Jay, son of the great jurist John Jay, this imprint explores the implications of one of the most successful slave insurrections in history, achieved with little bloodshed, aboard the Creole. Of the leader of the rebellion, Madison Washington, Jay writes, "The sagacity, bravery and humanity of this man do honor to his name, and, but for his complexion, would excite universal admiration."

United States vs. William Smith. Piracy (1861)

Speech of Hon. William D. Kelley

Selected Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints (February 2014)

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