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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 Slaveholders Rebellion

An antislavery long poem published at the conclusion of the Civil War by David Plumb. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.


David Henry Plumb (1818-1887) was a minister, journalist, and Liberty Party activist in western New York State.  He established the Wesleyan Methodist newspaper in Utica, New York in 1842.  His published works, most quite brief, include Man, A Poem Delivered at the Commencement of the Wesleyan University (1840); The True Heirs of the Abrahamic Inheritance; or, Jewish Restoration Disproved (1843); The New Earth (1843); Holiness: The Way to the Divine Presence (1850); and Citizenship and Suffrage: The Power and the Duty of Congress to Enfranchise the Nation (1868).

The long poem, composed of seventeen 10-line stanzas rhyming on alternate lines, was written at the conclusion of the Civil War.  It specifies the cause of the war as slavery (stanzas 2-4) and the liberation of slaves as victorious war policy (stanzas 6-8).  The recent assassination of Lincoln, in the poet’s opinion, illustrates the depths to which defeated slavery will sink (stanzas 11-12).  Plumb calls for rejecting pleas for mercy for the rebels (stanza 14), and demands banishment or execution for captured Confederate criminals (stanzas 15-16).  The final stanza (17) voices a vision of justice, human rights for “every race” (line 164), peace, and freedom.

- Joe Lockard