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Abraham  

Kenny A. Franks

also known as “Prophet,” was a runaway slave who became a prominent leader among the Seminole. Nothing is known about his parents or childhood. Fleeing his master, Abraham escaped south into Florida, and was eventually adopted into the Seminole tribe, with whom he enjoyed considerable status. In 1826 he accompanied a tribal delegation to Washington, D.C., and became an influential counselor to Micanopy, a leading Seminole leader. The Seminole, or Florida Indians, once were a part both of the Muskogee (Creek) nation that had been driven out of Georgia by the early English colonists, and also of the Oconee and Yamasee tribes that had been driven out of the Carolinas following the Yamasee uprising of 1715. They had first settled among the Lower Creeks in the Florida Panhandle and created a haven for runaway slaves. Indeed, Semino'le is the Creek word for “runaway.”

In 1818Andrew Jackson led ...

Article

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Ottilie Assing was the eldest daughter of David and Rosa Maria (Varnhagen) Assing. Her mother was an energetic teacher with a flair for singing and storytelling; her father was a well-known doctor who penned poetry and was prone to depression. David, born with the surname of Assur, was raised as an Orthodox Jew but associated with Christians. He and Rosa, who was not Jewish, raised Ottilie and her younger sister, Ludmilla, as "freethinking atheists, as true daughters of the Enlightenment, who saw themselves as members of a universal human race of thought and reason." They saw education as a "secular form of individual salvation."

Assing's life was not always easy; she witnessed savage anti-Jewish riots, and by the age of twenty-three she had lost both parents. In 1842 she and her sister moved from their hometown to live with an uncle Ludmilla adapted ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Orphan from Dahomey (now Benin) reputed to be of royal lineage, who was brought as a slave to England, where she became Queen Victoria's protégée. Sarah was named, ignominiously, after the ship Bonetta on which she was transported to England. Ironically, she was given to Captain Frederick Forbes by King Gezo of Dahomey in a conciliatory gesture following Forbes's unsuccessful attempt to persuade the King to give up trading in slaves. Forbes, in his account of his travels Dahomey and the Dahomens (1851), used Sarah as an example of the potential for progress in the intellect of the African at a time when pseudo‐scientific enlightenment theories of race were rampant: as Forbes noted, ‘it being generally and erroneously supposed that after a certain age the intellect [of the African] becomes impaired and the pursuit of knowledge impossible’.

Sarah was presented to Queen Victoria and thereafter raised under her ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Atlantic slave-trade survivor presented as a gift to Britain's Queen Victoria, was born in the early 1840s in or near the southern Beninese town of Okeadon. Her birth name is not known, but her marriage certificate would list her name as Ina Sarah Forbes Bonetta, perhaps indicating that her original name was Ina. Southern Beninese states had fought for years against the inland kingdom of Dahomey for autonomy, as the slave-trading empire sought to force its southern neighbors to pay tribute and accept Dahomean control over the slaves that were often sold to European and South American merchants. In 1846 Dahomean soldiers seized her and killed her parents during the Okeadon War between Dahomey and its enemies in the Yoruba city of Abeokuta after a traitor had allowed Dahomean troops entry to the town Bonetta was fortunate she did not join the 600 or so town residents ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Englishpoet who lent his pen to the anti‐slavery cause. Cowper was a supporter of international commerce, which he saw, idealistically, as the means by which mankind could share in God's bounty. In his poem Charity (1782), trade is described as ‘the golden girdle of the globe’, and Cowper writes of the ‘genial intercourse’ between nations effected by 18th‐century mercantile activity. The slave trader, however, betrays the principle of mutuality underpinning international commerce and brings shame to a Christian nation such as Great Britain (‘Canst thou, and honour'd with a Christian name | Buy what is woman‐born, and feel no shame?’). Religion apart, the slave trader also betrays the spirit of the age, its growing championing of liberty. To Cowper, the existence of slavery calls into question the very nature of humanity:

Then what is man? And what man, seeing this

And having human feelings does not blush ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

historian, was born Evelyn Titania Brooks in Washington, D.C., the younger of two daughters of Dr. Albert Neal Dow Brooks, a high school principal and historian, and Alma Elaine Campbell, a high school history teacher who later served as the supervisor for history in the Washington, D.C., public school system. The teaching and writing of history played a central role in the Brooks household. Albert N. D. Brooks served as the secretary-treasurer of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and as the editor of that organization's Negro History Bulletin. Albert Brooks was the youngest of ten children of the Reverend Walter Henderson Brooks, born a slave in Virginia in the 1850s and still alive at his granddaughter Evelyn's birth. A prominent Baptist minister and poet, Walter H. Brooks published an article in one of the earliest volumes of Carter Godwin Woodson ...

Article

Krotoa  

Julia Wells

Khoikhoi interpreter and trader at the first Dutch East India Company settlement at the Cape of Good Hope (present-day South Africa), was also known as Eva. Nothing is known of her parents or place of birth, except that her mother lived with a neighboring clan and showed hostility toward Krotoa, who was separated from her sister in infancy. When the Dutch landed on 7 April 1652, Krotoa lived with her uncle, Autshumao, leader of the Goringhaicona people. For several decades, Autshumao ran a postal service for passing ships of various countries. His people lived in the Table Bay area as hunter-gatherers of shellfish, in contrast to neighboring Khoikhoi groups who were itinerant pastoralists. When the Dutch landed and started to construct buildings, the Goringhaicona lived next door and often worked for tobacco, food, and drink.

From roughly the age of twelve Krotoa lived in the household of Jan Van ...

Article

Danica Tisdale

religious leader, college founder, and historian, was born near Jackson, Tennessee, to Cullen Lane, a white slave owner, and Rachel, a slave woman. Although born to a white father, young Isaac, by custom and law, occupied the status of his mother and was thus raised a slave by Rachel and her husband Josh, a slave and field hand. Little is known about young Isaac's parents, and, in fact, his autobiography states that he “was reared almost motherless and fatherless having no parental care and guidance” (Lane, 47). Nevertheless he was a precocious child, eager to learn. At the age of eleven he assumed the surname of his white father.

In his formative years Lane began to educate himself and would eventually learn to read write and do math Denied the advantages of early training Lane was able to seize a blue black speller and through ...

Article

John Gilmore

Historian of Jamaica and writer on slavery. Long was born in England, a member of a family that had long been settled in Jamaica and owned plantations there. Long himself spent only twelve years (1757–69) in Jamaica, where he was a judge, a member of the House of Assembly, and (for a very brief period) its Speaker, but he always identified himself with the interests of the Jamaican plantocracy, that is, the group of white landowners whose prosperity depended on the ownership of sugar plantations worked by slaves.

Long's major work was The History of Jamaica (1774 This contains an enormous amount of information on all aspects of the island and is still an essential source for historians of the Caribbean However the work is strongly marked by his partisan support for the plantocracy which leads him not only to emphasize Jamaica s importance to Britain ...

Article

Trevor Hall

was born in Benin, Nigeria, and enslaved in Portugal. He then returned to Benin, where he worked as a slave of the Portuguese king in a trading outpost owned by King João II (r. 1481–1495) and his successor King Manuel I (r. 1495–1521). Lourenco’s reason for renown was that in 1501 King Manuel I manumitted him, because of the exceptional services he had rendered to the Portuguese monarchs when he worked in Africa (Arquivo Nacional da Torrre do Tombo, Chancelaria de D. Manuel, Liv. 17, fol. 40v, 1501, in Portugallae Monumenta Africana, 1993, vol. 1).

In 1471 the first Portuguese ships sailed to Benin where they probably purchased pepper brass and iron Later the Portuguese established commercial military and diplomatic relations with the Obah the title given to Benin s king The Portuguese businessman Fernão Gomes dispatched the first Portuguese ships to Benin after purchasing a ...

Article

Wylene J. Rholetter

James Russell Lowell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, into a family that traced its ancestry to the first Lowell to arrive in Massachusetts in the mid-seventeenth century. The son of Dr. Charles Lowell, who served as the pastor of West Church in Boston for fifty-six years, and Harriet Spence, who gave her son a love of poetry and tales, Lowell would prove to be the most versatile of the Fireside Poets, the group of Massachusetts poets so-named because the popularity of their poems made them standard hearth-side reading in homes across the country. (In addition to Lowell, the group included William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and John Greenleaf Whittier.)

After receiving his bachelor's degree from Harvard, Lowell briefly considered the ministry and business before entering Harvard's Dane Law School, where he received his degree in 1840 More significant to his ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

writer and critic, was born in Nokomis, Alabama, the son of Sudie Graham, a Tuskegee Institute student, and John Young, a businessman. Soon after his birth Mattie Murray, a housewife, and her husband, Hugh, a laborer and timber worker, adopted him. Murray, who later enjoyed a close relationship with Graham and Young, joked of his adoption by less-wealthy parents, “It's just like the prince left among the paupers” (Gates, 30). He learned about the folkways of segregation in Magazine Point, a community on the outskirts of Mobile, Alabama, where his family had moved during World War I. “We didn't dislike white people,” he recalled. “We saw too many bony-butt poor white crackers. We were going to feel inferior to them?” (Maguire, 139). Murray's rejection of any notion of black inferiority was further strengthened by exposure to Mobile's baseball legend Satchel Paige and ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Born in Recife, Brazil, into an aristocratic and politically active family, Joaquim Nabuco spent the first eight years of his life on his family's large Sugar plantation in the northeastern province of Pernambuco. He later moved with his parents to Rio de Janeiro, then attended the prestigious law academies of São Paulo and Recife. At the former he met Antônio De Castro Alves, “the Poet of the Slaves,” and the abolitionist Rui Barbosa. Between 1873 and 1876 he made several trips to Europe and the United States, where he learned about abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, in the process strengthening his belief in abolition.

Nabuco opposed slavery for moral reasons At the age of eight he became aware of the cruelties of slavery when a slave from a nearby plantation approached him and begged to be purchased by Nabuco s family explaining that his ...

Article

Gregory Eiselein

Born into a Boston abolitionist family, William C. Nell attended an African American grammar school and graduated from an interracial school. As a student, he earned the right to an academic prize but, because of his race, was denied the award. The experience led him at an early age into battles against race discrimination and segregation in public schools. After studying law, Nell dedicated himself to antislavery work, lecturing, organizing meetings, and assisting fugitive slaves. He helped establish in 1842 the Freedom Association, an organization of African Americans who provided escaped slaves with protection, food, clothing, and shelter. Inspired by white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, Nell joined the Liberator in the early 1840s. He managed the paper's Negro Employment Office and wrote articles, while continuing to lecture and organize antislavery meetings. Like Garrison, he consistently opposed separate African American antislavery conventions and organizations. In 1847 Nell moved ...

Article

Roy E. Finkenbine

William Cooper Nell was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Guion Nell, a tailor, and Louisa (maiden name unknown). His father, a prominent figure in the small but influential African American community in Boston's West End during the 1820s, was a next-door neighbor and close associate of the controversial black abolitionist David Walker. Nell studied at the all-black Smith School, which met in the basement of Boston's African Meeting House. Although he was an excellent student, in 1829 he was denied honors given to outstanding pupils by the local school board because of his race. This and similar humiliations prompted him to dedicate his life to eliminating racial barriers. To better accomplish that task, Nell read law in the office of local abolitionist William I. Bowditch in the early 1830s Although he never practiced his legal skills and knowledge proved valuable in the antislavery ...

Article

Roy E. Finkenbine

abolitionist and historian, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Guion Nell, a tailor, and Louisa (maiden name unknown). His father, a prominent figure in the small but influential African American community in Boston's West End during the 1820s, was a next-door neighbor and close associate of the controversial black abolitionist David Walker. Nell studied at the all-black Smith School, which met in the basement of Boston's African Meeting House. Although he was an excellent student, in 1829 he was denied honors given to outstanding pupils by the local school board because of his race. This and similar humiliations prompted him to dedicate his life to eliminating racial barriers. To better accomplish that task, Nell read law in the office of the local abolitionist William I. Bowditch in the early 1830s Although he never practiced his legal skills and knowledge proved valuable in the ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

William Cooper Nell was born at 64 Kendall Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, the son of William Guion Nell, a ship's steward, and his wife, Louisa. The young Nell was a precocious student at Boston's African School, the first separate grammar school in America, but was barred because of his race from receiving the customary civic awards upon graduation. His counterparts from white schools received medals; Nell was given a copy of The Life of Benjamin Franklin. Later he campaigned for years to integrate Boston's schools, finally achieving success in 1855.

Living in a neighborhood that featured innumerable black abolitionists, including the fiery advocate of violent resistance David Walker, Nell soon became an antislavery activist himself. First associating himself with the radical white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, Nell attended public talks and in 1833 while still a teenager made a speech that was published in ...

Article

Kenneth Wiggins Porter

Luis Pacheco owes his fame principally to Republican Joshua R. Giddings's semifictional antislavery work The Exiles of Florida (1858). Pacheco was born on December 26, 1800, in Spanish Florida, at New Switzerland, a plantation on the Saint Johns River. He was the slave of Francis Philip Fatio. His parents were “pureblooded negroes,” and his father, Adam, was a “remarkably intelligent and ambitious negro,” a “carpenter, boat-builder, and driver.” Early on, Pacheco became acquainted with the neighboring Seminoles, among whom he had a sister. A brother had been captured as a child but had returned some twenty years later, and from him Pacheco “picked up a great deal of the language.” During his boyhood, his master's daughter, Susan Philippa Fatio taught him to read and write He was ambitious to learn and of quick perception and acquired a good deal of book learning But he ...

Article

Sonia Abun-Nasr

pastor of the Basel Mission in the Ga/Dangme region of the West African Gold Coast, present-day Ghana, was born on 31 May 1834 in Prampram His father Christian Hackenburg Reindorf was a trader of joint European and African descent his mother Anoa Ama was born in Accra of Ga origin Reindorf s great grandfather Augustus Frederick Hackenburg was from Denmark and had been governor at Fort Christiansborg on the Gold Coast Because of his mixed race background and his links with the Basel Missionary Society Reindorf moved throughout his life in a complex web of social relationships These linked him with Ga society in the coastal towns the Christianized Euro African business community in and around Fort Christiansborg now Osu as well as with Europeans working for the Basel Mission on the Gold Coast In his life history these different aspects of Reindorf s identity come to the surface ...

Article

Ruufoo  

Wolbert Smidt

former Oromo slave, linguistic informant, missionary student, and the first Oromo Bible translator in the 1860s, was born in the village of Gombotaa in Guummaa (in present-day Ethiopia). After his baptism he was called Christian Ludwig Paulus Rufo; in English sources he is also called Roofo. He died on 8 January 1871 in Cairo.

Ruufoo grew up as a shepherd boy in the independent Oromo kingdom Guummaa which was close to the Egyptian Sudan and the Ethiopian kingdom of Gojjam When he was about eleven or twelve years old he was kidnapped and enslaved by his own people in order to fulfill tax obligations The king of Guummaa regularly received part of his tributes in the form of slaves who were sold to Ethiopia or to one of the great slave markets of the Sudan Ruufoo was brought to Gojjam but soon escaped he then worked as a shepherd for ...