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Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

Running man image from workshop poster

The Pacific Appeal was the leading African American newspaper on the West Coast during the early 1860s.  A newly-published set of eight antislavery poems from the journal's inaugural 1862 volume captures the sense of expectancy within the African American community for the imminent end of US slavery.  These poems include the work of James Madison Bell, a San Francisco plasterer, brickmason, and poet.  Read more... 
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The Slave-Mother

A long poem on a fugitive slave-mother by John Collins, published for the 1855 Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Fair in Philadelphia. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.

 

John Collins (1814-1902) was a Philadelphia writer who self-published several verse works, including 1970: A Vision of the Coming AgeCrania Americana: or, A Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America (1838), Views of the City of Burlington (1847), The City and Scenery of Newport, Rhode Island (1857), The Art of Engraving on Metal, Wood, and Stone (1858), 'Elegy on the Death of Abraham Lincoln' (1865 broadside), and 'The Drunkard's Song' (1863? broadside).  He published various works as an illustrator.
 
‘The Slave-Mother’ recites the story of a fugitive slave who, when captured near Lake Erie, denied her infant child in order to prevent its return to slavery along with her. Subsequently, a local judge ordered her release and she escaped to Canada together with her child. This faintly Longfellow-esque poem transforms the story of a fugitive into a romantic adventure and story of maternal devotion. 
 

- Joe Lockard