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Some Glimpses of Ante Bellum Negro Literature
			
            SOME GLIMPSES OF ANTE BELLUM NEGRO
                        LITERATURE

       Chaplain T. G. Steward, D. D., U.S. A., Retired

            THE most notable productions by colored American
            authors in the infancy of the Republic were a
            small volume of poems by Phyllis Wheatly, Ben-
            jamin  Banneker's  almanacs,  and  the  Life  of
            Richard Allen, written by himself.  The name of
            Phyllis Wheatly is found in our dictionaries of
            American literature, and frequent notices of her
            life have appeared in the general press.  Her
poems attracted considerable attention in her day, and a recent edition
published by The African Methodist Episcopal Book Store has made
them familiar to many of the present generation. One of her
poems addressed to General Washington called forth from him a
letter characterized by a high degree of courtesy. The work of
Banneker, whose name is found in the encyclopedias, also in its turn
elicited well-merited commendation from Thomas Jefferson. The
work of Richard Allen is valuable especially because of its detailed
account of the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, and of
the services rendered during this affliction by colored residents. It
has been quoted by most respectable historians.
    The books that appeared along the pathway from this period to
the breaking out of the Civil War written by colored men were
mostly narratives of escaped slaves and of the experiences of free
colored men who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. Of this
latter class there were two very noteworthy; "Twelve Years a Slave,"
by Solomon Northrop, published in 1854, and "Twenty-Two Years a
Slave," by Austin Steward, published in 1857. These narrations of
cruelty and injustice were too painful to dwell on. The most noted
among the stories of escaped slaves was that of Frederick Douglass,
too well known to need more than mention.
    A book of sermons by the Reverend William Douglass, of Phila-
delphia, appeared in 1854, and a little earlier in 1851 a quite preten-
tious book of about 400 pages, called "Light and Truth," written by
Robert B. Lewis, a colored person, was published in Boston. It
                          229




			
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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 29, Num. 3

Some Glimpses of Ante Bellum Negro Literature

G.

Volume:  29
Issue Number:  03
Page Number:  229
Date:  01/1913


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