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Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

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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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An Address to the Inhabitants of Charleston, South Carolina

A brief 1805 tract by an English Quaker, Ann Alexander, following a visit to US southern states. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.

 

Ann Tuke Alexander (1767-1849) was from York, England, and a well-known Quaker supporter of the antislavery movement. Her reform-oriented works include Remarks on the Theatre and on the Late Fire at Richmond, in Virginia (York: T. Wilson and Son, 1812); Facts Relative to the State of Children who are Employed by Chimney Sweepers, as Climbing Boys (York: Printed by Wm. Alexander, 1817); Warrior & Pacificus; or, Dialogues on War (York: Printed for W. Alexander, 1819); and A Selection of Hymns, Designed Principally for the Use of Prisoners (New York: Mahlon Day, 1820). 
 
This tract is a brief post-travel letter to the inhabitants of Charleston, South Carolina, enjoining them to give up slavery in order to save their souls. “In passing along through some of the southern states,” she writes, “my mind has been painfully affected at the sight of numbers of my fellow-creatures, deprived of their natural liberty…” (4) She advocates against slavery as an act of charity, similar to that which should be exercised on behalf of the poor. If there is no end to this crime, Alexander warns, then harsh divine judgment will arrive. The tract is unusual within witness literature for its direct address to the citizens of a town in the tradition of biblical prophets, whom she quotes extensively.
 
For a discussion of this tract, see Kathryn Gin, "Three Anti-Slavery Women Writers," 175-205 in Early American Abolitionists: A Collection of Anti-Slavery Writings, 1760-1820, James Basker [ed.] (New York: Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 2005) at 179-181. 
 
- Joe Lockard