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Aaron  

Laura Murphy

a former Virginia slave who became an antislavery lecturer, used no last name. Almost nothing is known about him outside of the record contained in his episodic, forty-eight page memoir. He did not provide any information about his parents other than that “hard work and hard usage … killed them.” (Light and Truth 6 He recorded that he had lived in Maryland and Kentucky but that for most of his time as a slave he lived in Virginia owned by a master with seven other slaves three of whom were female Aaron s owner proved especially cruel preferring to personally punish his slaves rather than send them out for a whipping During the summer he forced his three female slaves to work all day and then spend the entire night cooling him and his family with fans while they slept Aaron was forbidden to go to church although ...

Article

Donna M. DeBlasio

The acculturation of newly arrived enslaved Africans to the New World involved the interaction between Europeans and Africans. In this complex process Africans were often able to fuse their native culture with that of the Europeans who were their new masters. Indeed, elements of African traditions survived in many forms, including religion, dance, music, folklore, language, decorative arts, and architecture. With the closing of the slave trade and a decreasing number of native-born Africans, intense acculturation abated. Over time both cultures, European and African, were transformed by their coexistence and sharing of traditions. The richness and variety of American culture owes much to traditions brought by Africans to the New World.

Religious practices and beliefs were central to both the Africans and the Europeans Early in slavery s history in North America many whites actually opposed converting slaves to Christianity They believed that baptizing African slaves might give them ideas ...

Article

Michael Bieze

artist, was born in Colquitt County, Georgia, son of John Henry Adams, a former slave and preacher in the Methodist Church, and Mittie Rouse. Many questions surround Adams's early life. While he reported in an Atlanta Constitution article (23 June 1902) that he came from a humble background, his father served parishes throughout Georgia. According to the History of the American Negro and His Institutions (1917), Adams Sr. was a man of accomplishment, leading black Georgians in a colony in Liberia for two years and receiving two honorary doctorates, from Bethany College and Morris Brown University. Educated in Atlanta schools, Adams claimed in the Atlanta Constitution article to have traveled to Philadelphia in the late 1890s to take art classes at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry (later Drexel University). Drexel, established in 1891 opened its doors to a diverse student ...

Article

Howard Paige and Mark H. Zanger

This entry includes two subentries:

To the Civil War

Since Emancipation

Article

Article

Carlos Franco Liberato and Martha I. Pallante

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the African diaspora, from the origins of slave trade through nineteenth-century America. The first article focuses on the evolution and criticism of the diaspora, while the second article focuses on the cultural effects of this forced transatlantic migration.]

Article

John Marinelli

teacher and abolitionist, said in a letter of protest to the Hartford Courant that he was born to enslaved parents, but their names are unknown. Slavery was not formally abolished in New York State until 1827, and the census of 1820 recorded 518 slaves in New York City. One source suggests that Africanus was born in New York City in 1822; it is possible that he may have been connected to the brothers Edward Cephas Africanus and Selas H. Africanus, who taught at a black school in Long Island in the 1840s. Africanus is now remembered only through his few published writings and journalistic documentation of his actions; the earliest records of his activity in Connecticut date from 1849 when he attended a Colored Men s Convention and a suffrage meeting His most notable publication was the broadside he created to warn Hartford African Americans about ...

Article

Frances Smith Foster

author and activist, was born in Oglethorpe, Georgia, the daughter of slaves. Details of her life are sketchy. Little is known of her parents or her childhood beyond the date and place of her birth and the fact that she was born into bondage; thus, it is particularly intriguing that in 1870, only five years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and one year after Atlanta University opened, seventeen-year-old Octavia was among the 170 students enrolled at that institution. Most of the little we know of her life comes from The House of Bondage (1890), the book that made her famous. From that source we learn that in 1873 she was teaching in Montezuma, Georgia, when she met her fellow teacher A. E. P. Albert. They married in 1874 and had one daughter.Sometime around 1877 Albert s husband was ordained as a Methodist ...

Article

Diane Mutti Burke

fugitive slave, was born near Richmond, Virginia, on a plantation owned by the Delaney family. Despite his memories of being well treated, his father, Aleck, was sold to pay his master's debts and taken south. Rev. Delaney justified Aleck's sale by claiming that the literate slave had shared ideas about freedom with other slaves in the neighborhood. When Rev. Delaney died in 1831, Alexander's mother, Chloe, was left to Mrs. Delaney, and eighteen-year-old Alexander was left to the master's son, Thomas. Chloe Alexander died six months after Thomas Delaney took her son with him to Missouri.

Delaney settled in western St Charles County Missouri where Alexander married a local slave woman named Louisa He later sold Alexander to Louisa s master Jim Hollman when he moved from the state and the couple spent the next twenty years living with their growing family on the Hollman farm Alexander was ...

Article

Darshell Silva

oral historian and centenarian, was born a slave in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to parents who were slaves brought to the United States from Barbados. She was moved to Dunk's Ferry in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, when she was ten years old to be with her master, of whom no information is available. There Alice lived as a slave, collecting ferry fares for forty years of her life.

Alice was a spirited and intelligent woman. She loved to hear the Bible read to her, but like most other enslaved people she could not read or write. She also held the truth in high esteem and was considered trustworthy. Her reliable memory served her well throughout her long life.

Many notable people of the time are said to have made her acquaintance like Thomas Story founder of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane which was the precursor to ...

Article

John Sekora and Donald A. Petesch

[This entry comprises two articles. The first is an overview of the major figures and currents of thought associated with anti-slavery literature in North America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The second is an expanded discussion of African-American perspectives from the eighteenth century to the present day. ...

Article

Cherron A. Barnwell

On 1 January 1831, in Boston, Massachusetts, William Lloyd Garrison launched his weekly antislavery newspaper, the Liberator, and a new phase in the history of the antislavery press was under way. In his first editorial, Garrison brazenly declared,

I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, to speak, or write, with moderation. … I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD.

(Cain, p. 72)

The unforgiving tone of the Liberator was thenceforth established, reflecting the firmness of what was to be its purpose for the next thirty-five years. From the day of its inauguration to 29 December 1865, the Liberator loudly proclaimed Garrison's truths and his criticisms of proslavery advocates—as well as of those antislavery advocates whose views opposed his. The Liberator ...

Article

James Smalls

Generally speaking, slavery and the slave trade have rarely been subject matter for art. Although many artists from different parts of the globe produced an image or two reflecting the practice of human enslavement, most avoided the topic altogether for political, ideological, or esthetic reasons. The visualization of slavery and the slave trade through art is an inherently political act that automatically positions an artist as either pro- or anti-slavery. The visual representation of slavery or the slave trade was for the most part instigated by and parallel in development with abolitionist movements.

With the increase in anti slavery sentiment throughout Europe and the United States during the late eighteenth century and throughout most of the nineteenth there developed a need for visual propaganda to support the cause Thus most graphic representations were didactic intended to stir sympathy and outrage in the viewer Most were rendered during the eighteenth and ...

Primary Source

Henry Bibb (1815–1854) survived a life of slavery more harrowing than most. Born in Kentucky and sold multiple times to increasingly cruel and negligent masters, Bibb willed himself to endure for the sake of his wife Malinda and their family. Bibb managed to escape, but was recaptured when he returned for Malinda and their child. He then spent time in a labor prison before being sold to another master. After making a final escape, Bibb spent years trying to retrieve Malinda, only to discover in 1845 that she had been sold as a concubine to a new slaveholder. From that dismal point, Bibb’s career as an abolitionist began in earnest. He published his story, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, in 1849, and founded an abolitionist newspaper Voice of the Fugitive in 1851.

Due to his difficult experiences it is not surprising that ...

Article

Rebekah Presson Mosby

The colonial period in America was not noted for its fine arts there was little in the way of sculpture and most of the paintings that were made were stiff portraits in the manner of European mostly British art The puritanical spirit that dominated America at the time was not one that nurtured the arts in general Very little if any experimentation went on in any of the arts as most art was regarded as frivolous and a distraction from what was held to be the serious and important business of religion and work Within this context there is evidence that fine art in the form of portraits was made by Africans in colonial America However most of the known artifacts from both slave and free blacks are the work of artisans Some of this work is of exceptionally high quality and it includes just about every imaginable practical and ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanslave who arrived in England and recorded his experiences in a narrative. Details of Asa‐Asa's birth and death are unknown. He was captured from his home in Bycla, near Egie, West Africa, and was eventually placed aboard a French vessel called The Pearl. Owing to severe weather conditions, the ship landed in the port of St Ives, Cornwall. Subsequently, Asa‐Asa and four other shipmates were taken to London. While in England, he wrote the ‘Narrative of Louis Asa‐Asa, a Captured African’ (1831 which details his family background the invasion of the Adinyes or the African slave traders who set fire to his village as they sought to kill torture or capture its inhabitants and his experiences on the ships that eventually led him to England Prior to his arrival he was taken to various places and sold numerous times After six months of journeying ...

Primary Source

Among depictions of American bondage, the slave narrative is undoubtedly the most poignant chronicle of the privations of involuntary servitude; this explains why The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is assigned reading for millions of American schoolchildren and college students every year. What is unique about Martha Griffith Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave—published anonymously at its first printing—is that Browne was not a former slave, but a white woman. In fact, as the daughter of slaveholding Kentuckians, Browne’s inheritance included six slaves. Nonetheless, she became an abolitionist and moved to Philadelphia. Autobiography was written to raise money for freeing her slaves and Browne approached the novel with such a verisimilitude that it was frequently cited as a work of nonfiction Although it sold poorly Browne s book is according to the University of Mississippi Press which republished it in 1998 the only pseudo slave narrative ...

Primary Source

Born a slave in North Carolina, John Sella Martin (1832–1876) was working as a boatman on the Mississippi River when he escaped to freedom in Illinois. Once there, Martin became a pastor known for his skill as an orator. He gained a wider audience when he publicly feuded with Frederick Douglass, writing articles rebutting Douglass’s claim that slaves were apathetic and unwilling to actively press for their freedom.

In the excerpt below from his autobiography, Martin discusses the act of insurrection that helped to earn his freedom: learning to read. Quietly and stubbornly, the twelve year-old Martin uses his prodigious memory to retain his conversations with white children, slowly building a vocabulary that would enable him to secretly read signs and newspapers.

Article

Lynn Orilla Scott

Slave narratives are autobiographical accounts of the physical and spiritual journey from slavery to freedom. In researching her groundbreaking 1946 dissertation, Marion Wilson Starling located 6,006 slave narratives written between 1703 and 1944. This number includes brief testimonies found in judicial records, broadsides, journals, and newsletters as well as separately published books. It also includes approximately 2,500 oral histories of former slaves gathered by the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s. The number of separately published slave narratives, however, is much smaller. Although exact numbers are not available, nearly one hundred slave narratives were published as books or pamphlets between 1760 and 1865, and approximately another one hundred following the Civil War. The slave narrative reached the height of its influence and formal development during the antebellum period, from 1836 to 1861 During this time it became a distinct genre of American literature and achieved immense popularity ...

Article

Stanley Harrold

Gamaliel Bailey was born in Mount Holly, New Jersey. His father, Gamaliel Bailey Sr., was a silversmith and itinerant Methodist minister. His mother, Sarah Page Bailey, was a member of a locally prominent family that included several physicians. In 1816 the Baileys moved to Philadelphia, where young Gamaliel attended school and developed a lifelong interest in literature. Practical considerations, as well as family tradition, however, led him to attend the city's Jefferson Medical College, from which he graduated in 1828.

Bailey, who suffered from poor health, traveled to China as a seaman aboard a trading ship in 1829, under the assumption that a sea voyage would be therapeutic. When he returned to the United States in 1830 the religious social and sectional controversies of the time drew him into reform His father had become a leader in the new Methodist Protestant Church which had its headquarters ...