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Philip Nanton

Britishwriter best known for his books The French Revolution (1837) and Frederick the Great (1858–65). Born in Scotland, and settling permanently in London in 1834, Carlyle was the author of many other works, including essays and articles in periodicals. Among these was his ‘Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question’, originally published in Fraser's Magazine (London) in December 1849, and later rewritten and republished as a pamphlet called Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question (1853) and in some of the collected editions of the author's Latter‐Day Pamphlets (first published 1850).

In form, the Occasional Discourse is an imaginary report of a speech by a fictional orator and it would be unwise to assume that everything in the speech should be regarded as identical with the personal opinions of Carlyle who may have deliberately exaggerated some elements for effect The speaker ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Debra Jackson

writer, temperance advocate, and educator, was born Ada Augusta Newton in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest of the three children of Alexander Herritage Newton, a trained mason, and Olivia Augusta (Hamilton) Newton, who was the eldest daughter of Robert Hamilton, the radical abolitionist and owner and editor of the Weekly Anglo-African newspaper. When Ada was eight years old her mother died and shortly thereafter her father, a recently licensed preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination, was directed by the AME leadership to manage the church at Pennington, New Jersey. This was the first of dozens of appointments for Newton, and Ada's early years were characterized by constant travel from city to city as her father's ministry took him to all regions of the country. Despite the incessant moving, Ada received a good elementary education.

Ada worked closely with her father on church matters Indeed she ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

Born to petit bourgeois parents in Vého, Lorraine, in rural France, Henri-Baptiste Grégoire was educated at a Jesuit college. He then became a teacher and was consequently ordained as a priest in Lorraine at the age of twenty-five. Frustrated by hierarchical barriers to advancement, he turned to writing.

Grégoire's first essays, published in the late 1770s, advocated tolerance of Jews, a position that placed Grégoire in opposition to the wave of anti-Semitism in France. In 1785 he won awards for a book reflecting his passion for Jewish rights Grégoire contended that temporal salvation by which he meant absorption into the Roman Catholic Church was individual rather than racial or national He defined his duty as working for the creation of conditions under which Jews could convert to Catholicism and be eligible for salvation To avoid social corruption he believed Jews were to be encouraged to migrate to the countryside ...

Article

Carolyn Williams

educator, diarist, and essayist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Mary Virginia Wood and Robert Bridges Forten, who were free blacks. Her father, a mathematician, orator, and reformer, was the son of the wealthy sailmaker James Forten Sr., a leading African American activist in Philadelphia. Her mother, grandmother, and aunts had been among the founding members of the interracial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (PFASS). Prominent figures such as the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and the Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier were friends of the Fortens. Whittier wrote a poem, “To the Daughters of James Forten.”

Both privilege and misfortune marked the early life of Charlotte Forten Although a very talented and well educated man Robert Forten never achieved financial stability By the time he joined the family business the sailmaking industry had been undermined by new steam propelled vessels Charlotte ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Karen O'Brien

Abolitionist poet. Rushton lived most of his life in Liverpool, but gained first‐hand experience of the slave trade and of Jamaica when he worked as a ship's mate in the 1770s. A slave friend, Quamina, whom he had taught to read, died rescuing him when his boat capsized. During this time he contracted ophthalmia, which left him blind for most of his life. On his return, he bore witness to the brutality of slavery in his West‐Indian Eclogues (1787), a series of four poems written in the voices of fictional slaves and presenting them as dignified and seething with righteous anger. The poems, which attracted wide public notice, including that of Thomas Clarkson and William Roscoe, deal explicitly with the sexual abuse and sadistic punishments inflicted on slaves, and their right to violent resistance. The notes to the Eclogues make a more conservative case for ...

Article

Larry R. Gerlach

baseball player and writer, was born in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, the son of Moses Walker, a minister and physician, and Caroline O'Harra. He grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, and in 1879 enrolled in historically integrated Oberlin College after two years in the school's preparatory program. The catcher on Oberlin's first varsity baseball team in 1881, Walker was the first African American to play white intercollegiate baseball. In 1882 and 1883 Walker played baseball and attended law school at the University of Michigan. Though an acclaimed ballplayer at both schools, he graduated from neither.

“Fleet,” as he was popularly known, began his professional baseball career in 1883 with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the Northwestern League. In 1884, when the league champions joined the major league American Association, Walker became the first black major leaguer in history. His younger brother Welday “Weldy” Wilberforce Walker signed ...

Article

Julie Winch

author, printer, and dentist, was born in Augusta, Georgia, the fourth of five children of John Willson, a Scots-Irish banker, and Elizabeth Keating, a free woman of color. Although they never married, Elizabeth eventually took Willson's last name. Shortly before his death in 1822, John Willson wrote a will leaving his “housekeeper” (the term he used to describe Elizabeth's role in his household) and her children two hundred shares of stock in the Bank of Augusta and appointed his friend, the prominent attorney John P. King, as their guardian (by the time Willson wrote his will, Georgia law required free people of color to have a white guardian to administer their property). King sent young Joseph to school in Alabama but he and Elizabeth agonized about the family s prospects given that the Georgia legislature seemed intent on restricting virtually every aspect ...