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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 New Pantheon, or the Age of Black

A proslavery long poem by an anonymous author, published in 1860 in New York City. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.

 

The author of this poem remains unknown.  The press that published the text, S.A. Rollo of New York City, was in business for several years during the 1850s and closed sometime in 1860.

The New Pantheon is a proslavery long poem of over 500 lines attacking the ‘abolitionist pantheon’.  It is a rare production.  Although there were many shorter proslavery poems, very few proslavery long poems were published.  On the basis of internal evidence, this poem was written and published shortly after May, 1860. 

Using a popular style of satiric doggerel verse, the poem jousted with leading Northern abolitionists.  Its targets include Ralph Waldo Emerson (lines 55 and following), Wendell Phillips (lines 75ff.), Theodore Parker (lines 93ff.), Lydia Maria Child (lines 133ff.), Edwin Chapin (257ff.), John Brown and others.  The central argument of the poem is that abolitionists residing in the new ‘Athens’ of Boston were betraying the white race, the United States, and Christian principles.  They are American Jacobins who are creating a new ‘Age of Blackness’ (lines 494ff.).  According to the author, the abolitionists are “crazed philosophers” (line 546) who deserve death (lines 582-585) for their advocacies and actions.

- Joe Lockard