1-20 of 38 Results  for:

  • 1775–1800: The American Revolution and Early Republic x
  • African American Studies x
Clear all


Brad S. Born

Benjamin Banneker was born 9 November 1731in Baltimore County, Maryland, the first child of free African American parents Mary Banneker and Robert, a former slave whose freedom she had purchased and who took her surname upon marriage. Growing up on their tobacco farm, Benjamin received little formal schooling, learning to read and write from his grandmother and attending for several seasons an interracial school where he first developed his lifelong interest in mathematics. Following his parents’ deaths and three sisters’ departures from home, Banneker remained on the farm, working the crops and cultivating his intellect in relative seclusion.

In 1771, he befriended George Ellicott a Quaker neighbor whose family had developed a large complex of mills on the adjoining property With astronomical texts and instruments borrowed from Ellicott he trained himself to calculate ephemerides tables establishing the positioning of the sun moon and stars for each day ...


Sam Hitchmough

George Gordon Noel Byron was born in London, England, with a club foot, a deformity that is thought to have affected his personality, particularly his attitudes to certain issues such as those confronting the disadvantaged and the oppressed. His contemporaries included another famous poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, with whom he formed a close friendship. Byron's principal works include Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812–1818), a lengthy narrative poem, and the epic poem Don Juan (1819–1824). The Byronic hero was a central figure in the poet's work, a romanticized and idealized rebel who often opposed or resisted the prevailing social and religious institutions. Dying as a participant in the Greek struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire, Byron became a poet much admired by many in the American abolitionist movement. Frederick Douglass often referred to and quoted from Byron in his speeches urging resistance to the ...


Kimberly A. Sisson

poet, clubwoman, and political activist, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, the daughter of Mary Evans and Joshua T. Williams, whose occupation is now unknown. In 1870 the family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Mary Evans opened a successful wig-making business that operated for over twenty years. Carrie Williams attended the first integrated school in Columbus; whether she pursued higher education is unknown, however it is known that during the 1880s she taught in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

In 1886, at the age of twenty-four, she married William H. Clifford, a two-term Republican state representative from Cleveland. They would have two sons. As part of the black middle class in Cleveland, Clifford and her husband socialized with other important black figures such as Charles W. Chesnutt and George A. Meyers. Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois made frequent appearances in Cleveland joining the Cliffords ...


Roxanne Y. Schwab

writer and educator, was born in Dresden, Ontario, Canada, the fourth child of William and Nancy Newman. Little is known of her family, and the exact dates of her birth and death are unknown, but she was most likely born sometime in the mid-nineteenth century. As a young woman, she accompanied her father to the West Indies for missionary work, then returned to the United States when he became pastor of a church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following her father's death, she moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where she looked after her invalid mother for thirteen months. Upon her mother's death, Lucretia Newman became the head of the household for her siblings. After her early education she completed a course of scientific study at Lawrence University in Appleton before finding work as a high school music teacher and as a clerk in a dry goods store.

In 1883 Coleman was ...


W. Farrell O'Gorman

author, teacher, and civic leader, was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Michael (also spelled Micheil) Cotter, a boardinghouse owner who was known as an avid reader, and Martha Vaughn. Cotter was raised largely by his mother, a freeborn woman of mixed English, Cherokee, and African heritage. It was from her naturally dramatic manner—she orally composed poems and plays as she worked at chores—that he acquired his love of language and stories. Having taught herself, she also taught her son to read and enrolled him in school. When he was eight, however, economic necessity forced him to drop out of school to begin work at various jobs, first in a brickyard, then in a distillery, and finally as a ragpicker and a teamster. Until age twenty-two, manual labor consumed much of Cotter's life.

The friendship of the prominent black Louisville educator William T. Peyton who sensed Cotter ...


Eric Gardner

poet and educator, was born Mary Weston in Charleston, South Carolina, to Furman Weston, a millwright, and Louisa Bonneau, a seamstress. Both parents were free African Americans. Furman Weston was the son of Mary Furman (Mary Furman Weston Byrd, who is eulogized in Fordham's collection of poetry) and John Weston. Furman Weston was part of the extended Weston family of free African Americans who owned land in the Charleston area and that included the noted clergyman Samuel Weston, a founder of Claflin University. Fordham's eulogy to Samuel Weston—which contains the figurative phrase “fond parent”—has misled scholars into assuming that he was actually her father. Louisa Bonneau's mother Jeanette Bonneau (also eulogized by Fordham) also owned land as a free African American in antebellum Charleston and was a daughter of Thomas Bonneau, a pioneering black educator. Mary had one sister, Jeanette who lived much ...


Wallace Hettle

sailor, poet, Civil War soldier, and newspaper correspondent, first appears in the historical record in 1856 as a nineteen-year-old sailor on a whaling vessel out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. His birthplace is uncertain. His marriage certificate and seaman's papers say he was born in Troy, New York, yet no Gooding family appears in the census records for Troy. In Seneca, New York, a state census in 1850 records the presence of a James Goodin (with no final g who might have been Gooding s father and who probably worked as a rail or canal laborer in upstate New York Whatever Gooding s early background his education whether self directed or formal was exceptional The letters he published during the Civil War reveal his grounding in history and the classics If he did grow up in Troy Gooding received the benefits of membership in a black community ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

Dear Master, I will follow thee,

According to thy word,

And pray that God may be with me,

And save thee in the Lord.

This stanza is from Jupiter Hammon's poem “A Dialogue Entitled the Kind Master and the Dutiful Servant,” published in 1786, when Hammon was in his seventies. Hammon had been a slave his entire life, and had served several generations of the Lloyd family on Long Island, New York. Many of his writings neither condemn, nor even mention, slavery; instead, they praise Christianity in the same manner as the evangelical hymns that were his models. But even when his words were not deliberately radical, they represented a radical act—Hammon became the first known African American to publish a piece of literature.

Hammon s owners were wealthy and the few records of his life with them indicate that he was a favorite servant who worked as a ...


Sondra O’Neale

Jupiter Hammon gave birth to formal African American literature with the publication of An Evening Thought, Salvation, by Christ, with Penitential Cries (1760). Hammon was born on 17 October 1711 at the Lloyd plantation in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. He was almost fifty years old when he published his first poem, “Salvation Comes by Christ Alone,” on 25 December 1760.

Hammon was a slave to the wealthy Lloyd family. It is evident that he received some education, and he was entrusted with the family's local savings and worked as a clerk in their business. There is no record of his having a wife or child.

By the time he was eighty, Hammon had published at least three other poems— “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly [sic], Ethiopian Poetess”, “A Poem for Children with Thoughts of Death”, and A Dialogue Entitled the Kind ...


David N. Gellman

In 1760 Jupiter Hammon became the first published African American poet. Over the next three decades Hammon's small assortment of published prose and poetry made him a literary pioneer. The native of Long Island, New York, explored themes and styles that would define African American literature from the American Revolution to the Civil War. His reputation has long been obscured by that of his more famous contemporary, Phillis Wheatley. Nonetheless, Hammon's work addresses crucial themes concerning religion, slavery, and African American literary self-expression.

Hammon spent his entire life as a slave He was the property of the Lloyds a wealthy merchant family that maintained an estate on the northern coast of Long Island Slaves were among the cargo the Lloyds carried between the West Indies and the Atlantic coast One scholar suggests that Hammon was the son of two Lloyd family slaves Rose whom the Lloyds had acquired from ...


Cassandra Jackson

poet, novelist, activist, and orator, was born Frances Ellen Watkins to free parents in Baltimore, Maryland. Her parents' names remain unknown. Orphaned by the age of three, Watkins is believed to have been raised by her uncle, the Reverend William Watkins, a leader in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and a contributor to such abolitionist newspapers as Freedom's Journal and the Liberator Most important for Watkins her uncle was also the founder of the William Watkins Academy for Negro Youth where she studied A well known and highly regarded school the academy offered a curriculum included elocution composition Bible study mathematics and history The school also emphasized social responsibility and political leadership Although Watkins withdrew from formal schooling at the age of thirteen to begin work as a domestic servant her studies at the academy no doubt shaped her political activism oratorical skills ...


Joan R. Sherman

The “Colored Bard of North Carolina” was the only man to publish volumes of poetry while in bondage and the first African American to publish any book in the South. Born on the tobacco farm of William Horton in Northampton County, North Carolina, George Moses Horton moved with his master to Chatham and worked as a “cow-boy” and farm laborer throughout his teens. During these years he taught himself to read—he could not write until 1832—and began composing verses and hymns in his head. From about 1817 Horton took weekly Sabbath walks of eight miles to the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina to sell fruit soon winning the students admiration by composing love lyrics and acrostics to order He sold a dozen poems a week dictating them to the collegians who furthered their bard s education by giving him books of poetry geography history ...


Joan R. Sherman

poet, was born in Northampton County, North Carolina, a slave of William Horton; the names of his parents are unknown. As a boy he moved with his master's household to Chatham County, where he tended cows on the farm. Horton's teenage pleasures, he later wrote, were “singing lively tunes” and “hearing people read” (Horton, iv), and he taught himself to read, first learning the alphabet from an old spelling book. He acquired an extraordinary vocabulary and the forms, topics, and styles of his verse from reading the New Testament, Wesley's hymnal, and books given to him by University of North Carolina (UNC) students.

In his early twenties, now the slave of William's son, James Horton, George avoided the manual labor he disliked by walking eight miles from the farm to Chapel Hill on weekends to sell fruit and his poems. From about 1830 on he hired ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

George Moses Horton, who was enslaved for most of his life, has been called the first professional black poet in America. Even as a slave, Horton made money by composing poems for students at the University of North Carolina and became the first African American in the South to publish a book, receiving local fame as “The Colored Bard of North Carolina.” But Horton's creative potential was continually frustrated by the limits on his freedom.

Horton was the property of three generations of the same North Carolina family before Emancipation in 1865. He had no formal education, but began creating poetry by composing verses in his head. His earliest patrons, university students, commissioned him to compose love poems for their sweethearts. Horton had not yet learned to write, but he dictated, the students transcribed, and he was paid in money and books.

Horton s talents were eventually noticed by ...


Roy E. Finkenbine

Born into bondage in Northampton County, North Carolina, George Moses Horton was the sixth of ten children by different fathers born to his mother, a slave of the tobacco farmer William Horton. When he was about three, his master moved to nearby Chatham County. His early years were spent tending cattle on the farm there, although he gained a reputation for his composition of “lively tunes.” He continued to be the property of various members of the Horton family until the Civil War.

After reaching adulthood Horton enjoyed unusual freedom of movement often walking the eight miles to nearby Chapel Hill He became a regular visitor at the University of North Carolina and was befriended by both university officials and students who viewed his oratorical acrostic and rhyming skills as a curiosity They paid him to compose poems often on matters of romance or current affairs Soon Caroline Lee ...


Caryn Cossé Bell

writer, civil rights activist, and educator, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nothing is known of his personal life except that he married and had five children, four sons and a daughter. A brother, Numa Lanusse, also displayed considerable literary talent until his death at the age of twenty-six in a riding accident.

In New Orleans, the nation's nineteenth-century “Creole capital,” Lanusse belonged to a resident coterie of French-speaking Romantic writers whose ranks were reinforced by political refugees of revolutionary upheaval in France and the French Caribbean. Intensely hostile to Louisiana's slave-based racial hierarchy and inspired by the Romantic idealism of the democratic age, Lanusse joined with the native and émigré literati to press for change. In 1843 he played a leading role in the publication of a short-lived, interracial literary journal, L'album littéraire: Journal des jeunes gens, amateurs de littérature which began as a ...


Laura Murphy

educator and poet, was probably born in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, to David Mapps, a wealthy mariner and a respected businessman, and Grace, whose maiden name is unknown. Mapps's parents became Quakers in 1799 and enjoyed great respect within the Society of Friends, welcoming frequent visits from Friends including Charles Osborn, the famous antislavery editor, and Thomas Shillitoe, a British minister. It is said that Isaac Hopper the abolitionist and participant in the Underground Railroad once declared at a dinner party that if any of the white guests objected to eating with the Mappses the offended parties should wait until the end of the event to eat Everyone dined together that evening Though the family was embraced by many in the Quaker community it was highly unusual that they were made members at all Mrs Mapps once mourned the difficulties that a black ...


Arthuree McLaughlin Wright

evangelist and poet, was born Lena Doolin in Quincy, Illinois, to Vaughn Poole Doolin, a black Civil War soldier, and Reida (or Reba) Doolin, a former slave. After the war the Doolin family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. Lena Doolin was the fifth of ten children and grew up with her seven sisters and two brothers in a loving family. Doolin's parents affirmed her as a person and nurtured her in the Christian faith. In January 1872, at the age of seven, she joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church of Hannibal under the Reverend John Turner Church leaders and family sensed that Lena had a special God ordained purpose for her life at an early age and by age twelve she was able to interpret scripture as effectively as an adult Twice during her youth she felt a nudging from God to preach the Christian ...


Jennifer Larson

politician, poet, journalist, and activist, was born in rural Kalkaska, Illinois, to French Creole parents who had traveled up the Mississippi River to escape oppression in Louisiana. Only scattered details about Menard's early life in Illinois remain. He likely spent part of his youth working on area farms before attending an abolitionist preparatory school in Sparta, Illinois. He also attended Iberia College (later Ohio Central College) in his early twenties, though he did not complete a degree there, presumably because of financial setbacks.

In 1859 Menard spoke to a crowd gathered at the Illinois state fairgrounds to celebrate the abolition of slavery in the West Indies. The Illinois State Journal s laudatory coverage of the speech points to Menard s budding career in social activism A year later in response to growing racial discrimination in the Illinois legislature Menard published An Address to the Free ...


Martha L. Wharton

poet, biographer, and essayist, was a member of one of Hartford, Connecticut's noted African American families, and an active member of Rev. James W. C. Pennington's Talcott Street Colored Congregational Church, where at thirteen she professed her faith in Christ. Plato began teaching at age fifteen in the Hartford area, and she devoted some of her poetry to the subject of teaching—topics included teacher training and examination, her end-of-the-school-year hope that students would retain knowledge gained through the year, and her class of very young children. Little is known of her life, but her poetry suggested that piety, morality, and spiritual devotion were central to her outlook.

Plato's Essays; Including Biographies and Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose and Poetry (1841) was a self-published work containing sixteen essays, four biographies, and twenty poems. The Reverend Pennington an abolitionist leader cast the book as a pious ...