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Mitch Kachun

novelist, essayist, and teacher, was the married name of an African American woman whose maiden name and place and date of birth are unknown. Collins is best known for her novel The Curse of Caste; or the Slave Bride, which was originally serialized in the Christian Recorder, the weekly newspaper of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, between February and September 1865. Some scholars regard The Curse of Caste as the first non-autobiographical novel written by an African American woman to appear in print.

Nothing is known of Collins's life before April 1864, when a letter to the Christian Recorder mentioned that she was to serve as schoolteacher for the African American children in the small north-central Pennsylvania city of Williamsport. The same issue of the newspaper also printed Collins's first known published work, a nonfiction essay titled “Mental Improvement.” By January 1865 she had ...

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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 ...

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Eric Gardner

writer and educator, was born Frank Johnson Webb in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He may have been the son of Frank Webb, a china packer and community activist; his mother's name is not known. Little is known of Webb's life prior to his marriage to Mary Webb, whose maiden name is unknown, in 1845. Webb apparently lived on the fringes of Philadelphia's black elite, and he seems to have been related to the Forten family by marriage.

Webb and his wife worked in clothing-related trades, and he participated in the Banneker Institute, an African American literary and debating society. When their business failed around 1854, the Webbs attempted to move to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Webb was denied passage because of his race, and this event was reported in several abolitionist newspapers.

In the meantime Mary Webb began giving dramatic readings. Harriet Beecher Stowe noticed her and wrote ...