Plea for the Establishment of a Chair of Negro History in our Schools and Colleges, etc.
ARTHUR A. SCHOMBURG,
Secretary of the Negro Society for Historical Research,
Yonkers, N. Y.
Negro Society for Historical Research
(Occasional Paper No. 3.)
AUGUST VALENTINE BERNIER,
Printer and Publisher.
To My Friend
JOHN EDWARD BRUCE
The cuneiform characters and kindred systems of writing have remained to this day enveloped in a veil of mystery, whichthe light of reason can only overcome with spasmodic success. Many have observed the cuneiform or triangular letters in theirdiversified combination from those seen at a distance on stone, to those in gold which require the microscope to appreciate theingenuity of their artisans. These recall what Wendell Phillipshas said in his lectures on "The Lost Arts" concerning the in¬genious method of the people of Africa to work on materials that our ordinary sight cannot appreciate without the aid of themicroscope. But let me return to my subject, around those cuneiform letters—the Rossetta Stone—like the Philosopher'sStone hinges the riddle of African civilization. From the most savage region of Africa, we have been dumbfounded with therecent archaelogical discoveries. The white historian to whom we are indebted for little that is right and much that is wrong,has consistently and persistently proclaimed that in Africa there is not a vestige of anything to,show the handiwork of its black people.
Time, patience and perseverance, have commenced to reward our race. In the abysmal regions of Rhodesia, the whiteman in his quest Tor precious metals and priceless stones, has excavated the ruins of a temple that has upset the obiter dictumof tlie white explorers and historians. The temple is known as the great Zimbawbe. Hall, and Neal, two Englishmen claim, thatit is of Asiatic architecture, and Professor Mac Iver as "characteristically African", and no doubt as a place of refuge, it willeventually be claimed to have been of Arab workmanship. And the question will have to be asked, could not the Negroes underthe Arabs have learned to do something tangible in spite of one thousand and one obstacles as well as under the guiding and restraining influence of the so-called Anglo-Saxon race in the United States? Why could not things Arabic have had Hamitic blood?Mr. Felix DuBois in his "Timbuctoo the Mysterious" says: "Among the exiles was a learned doctor, Ahmed Baba by name,born in 1556, at Arawan, of Senhadjen, Berber parentage. In spite of his youth, he enjoyed a considerable reputation in Timbuctooat the time of the Moorish conquest, and his brethren gave him the title of "the Unique Pearl of his Times." His renown in¬creased in Morocco and became universal, spreading from Marrakesh to Bougie, Tunis, and even Tripoli. The Arabs of thenorth called this Negro "very learned and very magnanimous" and his gaolers, found him "a fount of erudition"
The ancient histories of Morocco relate many other interesting details, and the author of the Bedzl el Mouasaha reports thefollowing utterance of Ahmed: "Of all my friends, I had the fewest books, and yet when your soldiers despoiled me theytook 1600 volumes." The Nozhel el Hadj gives the followinginstance of the courage and pride of the Negro sheik: "Afterhe was set at liberty Ahmed Baba presented himself at the palace of el Mansour, and the sultan gave audience to him frombehind a veiL He said "If it is your wish to speak to me comeforth from behind the curtain." When el Monsour raised thecurtain and approached him, Ahmed Baba continued "whatneed have you to sack my house, steal my books, and put me into chains to bring me to Morocco?" * * * He reached Timbuctoo in safety and died in 1627 a man of great learning and a prolific writer, the name of twenty of his books have been hand¬ed down to us. Except for an astronomical treatise written in verse, and some commentaries on the holy texts, his books arechiefly elucidations of the law and the sciences he professed, and prove that he was above everything a jurist. Two of hisworks alone possess general interest; they have been preserved, happily, and I was enabled to bring copies of them away withme. One is entitled the Miraz, and is a little book upon the different Negraic peoples, written by Ahmed Baba in exile, witha view to making the Sudanese populations known to the Moors. A copy of this book is to be found among the MSS of theBibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France Fonds Oracela No. 4628. It was found in Algiers by M. Cherbonneau, who has publishedsome very interesting extracts."
We have observed the urgent reasons given by our savant the late Edward W. Blyden, for the study of Arabic, we shouldappreciate his insistent plea to have our people acquire a working knowledge of the language, because much of our life is un¬doubtedly wrapped up in their traditions, customs and histories. "There is now", says Dr. Blyden in his "Christianity, Islam andthe Negro Race," "in one of the adjoining Mohammetan villages a work in MS composed in Egypt or Nubia, describing theexploits of distinguished Negroes in the early history of Mohammedanism; so that the Mohammedan youth, from booksthey read, have a far better opportunity of becoming acquainted with the great men of their race than the Christian youth, andtherefore of acquiring deeper self-respect and an earnest attachment to a religion in which their own people have performedsuch achievements." (p. 267).
I am here with a sincere desire to awaken the sensibilities, to kindle the dormant fibres in the soul, and to fire the racialpatriotism by the study of the Negro booksj We often feel that so many things around us are warped and alienated. Let ussee, if we cannot agree to arrange a formula or create a basic construction, for the establishment of a substantial method ofinstruction for our young women and men in the material and the useful. The object of this paper is not to revolutionize ex¬isting standards, but simply to improve them by amending them, so that they will include the practical history of the Negro Race,from the dawn of civilization to the present time. We are reminded that the earliest instruction was imparted orally, andthis system is still found . extant in Africa and among other Oriental nations. It is useful, because it trains the mind tolisten, and retain. The modern school with its many books, but without systematic lectures, turns out many graduates who arelacking in retentiveness and no sooner than the sound of the words has left their teachers' lips, the subject has been forgotten; and if they are called upon to explain the theme, it is reduced to an incomprehensible mass of meaningless words. The university graduate is wont to overestimate his ability, fresh from the machinery that endows him with a parchment andcrowns him with knowledge, he steps out into the world to meet the practical men with years of experience and mother wit.
It is a contrast, the professional man with the veneer of high art, and the acquaintance with the best authors, and up to datehistories demanding recognition. All these books take their proper places when applied to the white people, but whenapplied or measured up to the black people, they lack the substantial and the inspiring. They are like meat without salt,they bear no analogy to our own; and for this reason it would 'be a wise plan for us to lay down a course of study in NegroHistory and achievements, before or after men and women have left certain schools. By this I mean, the reading and acquain¬tance with those writers whose "good books are the precious life blood of master spirits embalmed and treasured up 011purpose to a life beyond life." (Milton).
The fables of Aesop, the cherished and enjoyable book of our youth, was originally related as folk-lore by a Negro fromAethiopia to the Greeks, who in turn published them. The early editions of this book speaking- of the author says: "Allagree that his person was uncommonly deformed, his head was long, nose flat, lips thick and pendant, a hump-back and com¬plexion dark, from which he contracted his name Aesopus being the same as Aethiops, large belly and bow-legs; but his greatestinfirmity was, that his speech was slow, inarticulate, and very obscure. Such was the person of Aesop." It does not requireany length or breadth of the imagination for us to locate Aesop socially. Were we to see such a slave amongst us would webelieve him to be a Negro? Yet we have lived so many years to read his book and think that it was the workmanship ofGrecian lettered men.
It is the season for us to devote our time in kindling the torches that will inspire us to racial integrity. Milton was in¬spired by the shepherd to his great song. We need it more than the Jews who though not a practical nation, live in theorya nation of 'most powerful intellects. They live on the very groups of nations who destroyed them; and this concentrationof force, energy, power and vitality has made them a combination of forces to be relied on whenever the sinews of war are aprerequisite to defence or offence. The Negro must strive to follow in the good examples of the Jews—they cling to theircustotris and traditions, no matter whether they live in Timbuctooor in the highest peaks of the Andean mountains; they cling together and uphold the maxim that "in unity there is strength. "We need a collection or list of books written by our men andwomen. If they lack style, let the children of tomorrow correct the omission of their sires. Let them build upon the crude work.Let them, because of the opportunities that colleges and universities grant, crystalize the crude work and bring it out flaw¬less.
The earliest record of one of our educated men born in America,and credited with having studied at a university isthat of the poet Francis Williams "This remarkable person was named Francis Williams, the son of John and Dorothy Williams,free Negroes. Francis, who was a lively, intelligent lad, was selected as the subject of an experiment by the Duke of Montague who was anxious to know whether a Negro lad, trained at a grammar school and then at a university, would be foundequal in literary attainments to a white man." Francis graduated from Cambridge University with the degree of Bachelor ofScience, returned to Jamaica and opened a school in Spanish Town, where he imparted a classical and mathematical education" (Gardner's "History of Jamaica").
In the famous "Carmen to Governor George Haldane" he said: The bountiful Deity, with a hand powerful and firm, hasgiven the same soul to men of all races, nothing standing in his way. Virtue itself, and prudence, are free from color; there is no color in an. honorable mind, no color in skill. Why dost thou fear or doubt that the blackest Muse may scale the lofty- house of the western Caesar? Go and salute him, and let it not be to thee a cause of shame that thou wearest a white soul in a black skin. Integrity of morals more adorns a Moor, and ardor of intellect and sweet elegance in a learned mouth." Blumenbach, the famous ethnologist, was the first Euro¬ pean known to have collected a library of Negro authors. And among the books that he deemed interesting was that of our poetess Phillis Wheatley, who had no contemporary in America. "Those of Phillis Wheatley of Boston, who is justly famous for them, deserve mention here," says the eminent anthropologist in his book "De Generis Humani Varietati Native." And in Thomas Clarkson's famous "Essay on the Slavery of the Human Species" her poems are also used, to good purpose. The Abbe Gregoire, General George Washington and- Thomas Jefferson who said "that religion could only produce a Phillis .Wheatley"—these, the mighty pens of the world in those days have set down the deeds of our first poetess. And no Professor of English literature can pull off the halo or the crown of laurel leaves which beatify her maidenly brow.
Juan Latino, who sang the praises of Don Juan de Austria at the battle of Lepanto, and whose book was printed at Gra nada in 1573, (one of the most remarkable and rarest of books) can be seen and read at the Boston Public Library in the Tick- nor collection of \Spanish literature. Latino's life is full of romantic episodes for a slave. He applied for the degree of Doctor of Arts at the University of Granada, and the precep tors who opposed him, were the first after his successful exam ination to publicly acclaim him the most learned in the Latin language. When the chair of Poetry became vacant, he came out ahead of his competitors and won the cathedra. Antonio in his "Bibliotheca Nova" pays an excellent tribute to his learn ing and wisdom. It should be remembered that Juan took the name Latino when he applied for his degree and it was not given him as a nickname as some writers claim.
Anthony William Amo was born on the icoast of Guinea and studied at Halle, Saxony, and at the University of Witten berg. He was learned in Latin, Greek, and spoke Hebrew, Dutch, French and German. He is well remembered by Blu- menbach and Gregoire. He wrote two books, one a philoso phical dissertation on the "want of feeling" which obtained the approbation of the University and won the doctor's degree for him. The other was a philosophical treatise containing a suc cinct discussion of those sensations which pertain both to the mind and to the living organic body. These volumes were published in the year 174.
J. E. J. Capitein was also born in Africa and studied at The Hague, whence he entered the University of Leyden and took his degree during 1740. He published a treatise on the Calling of the Gentiles "De Vocatione Ethnicorum," which he divided into three parts. This was a pro-slavery work, and ran through 3 editions. There is still extant by the same author a book of sermons in Dutch, which was printed in Amsterdam in 1742. He was a poet of feeling and force and his Elegy on the death of Manger is well known:-—
Envious Death brandishes its weapons through the whole World,
And rejoices that someone has succumbed to it
Free from fear, it wings its way into Kings' Chambers,
And bids them lay down the sceptres of power from their hand..
It does not allow leaders long to behold their triumphs won,
But forces them to relinguish their brilliant trophies.
It claims for itself both the treasures of the rich,
And also the cottage of the beggar to distribute them to others.
With ruthless sickle it cuts off old men and young,
With no discrimination, like ears of corn,
It was this bold creature that, clad in black robe,
Dared to upset the portal of Manger's house.
And when the fatal cypress stood in front of the dwelling
High-born Haga gave vent to mournful groans."
We are indebted to Mr. Joseph Jekyll for a sketch of Ignatius Sancho's life. Among" other things he says: 'The display those writings exhibit of epistolary talent, of rapid and just conception of wild patriotism, and universal philantrophy may well apologize for the protection of the Great, and the friendship of the literary. * * * The late Duchess of Queensbury and Northumberland pressed forward to serve the author. Garrick and Stearne were well acquainted with Ignatius Sancho. Two pieces were constructed for the state, "The Theory of Music" was discussed, published and dedicated to the Royal Princess, and painting was so much within the circle of Ignatius Sancho's judgment and criticism that Mortimer came often to consult him. Such was the man whose species philosophers and ana tomists have endeavored to degrade as a deterioration of the human; and such was the man Fuller with a benevolence and quaintness of phrase peculiarly his own accounted "God's image in ebony." The first edition of 2 volumes of Ignatius Sancho's letters was published in London 1782. They have run through 10 known editions, the last edition being in one volume. It has a picture of Gainsborough engraved by Bartolozzi. J. Ludolph's "History of Aethiopia" was written in Latin and Coptic and published in four folio volumes from 1681-1694. ""In the compilation" says the Rev. Dr. J. Lewis Kraft, "Ludolph received great assistance from Abbas Gregorius the Amharic Patriarch whose portrait is prefixed to the second, and who re sided with Ludolph for a short time at the court of the ancestor of H. R. H. the Prince Consort Duke Ernest of Saxe-Gotha." (Kraft's "Abyssinia") "Many Abyssinians have curly hair as the famous Abbas Gregorius whose handsome likeness" says Blumenbach, 'which Heiss engraved in 1691 after Van Sand, I have before me." Even Ludolph in his description of the Patriarch says he had "curly hair like other Aethiopians." The narrative of Gustavus Vassa of Esaka, Africa, was first published in two volumes in 1784. It has run through 10 English, 1 German and 4 American editions. A most commend able work, it does not only relate to slavery in the United States, and elsewhere, but 10 the important part he played in the Abolition of the Slave Trade. His dealing with Granville Sharp, his petition to the House of Parliament and the tact that he was the first Negro to have gone in quest of the North Pole in the Luisberg 1758 expedition as an attendant, are eloquently told in the narrative.
Phillis Wheatley was our peerless poetess. Her first book of poems was printed in London 1773, it was followed by a second London edition the same year. Another edition was printed in Walpole, N. H., 1802, thence followed a Philadelphia, an Albany and several other issues, with a short biography during the years 1834-5-6-7-8 at Boston. Still another edition was pub lished in Denver, Colorado in 1887. The first edition published by a Negro was by R. R. Wright Jr., at Philadelphia, Pa. Mr. Deane published an .edition of 100 copies of her letters in 1864, which was read before the Mass. Historical Society. Individual broadside poems preceded her book. After her marriage many of her poems were published under the name of Phillis Peters. "The Poems 'by a Slave" by George M. Horton of North Carolina, the author of Praises of Creation and in whose behalf Joshua Coffin took great interest to purchase his freedom, is a booklet of unusual merit, and deserves the consideration of disinterestered racial men who will reprint it for the better appre ciation of this generation.
The poets Whitefield of Buffalo, Islay Walden, the blind poet of North Carolina and Whitman of Florida are additional evidences of the mental ability of our men to scale the heig'hts of Mount Olympus.
The late Frances E. Watkins Harper, a novelist as well as a poetess and lecturer whose lyre was always tuned in defence of righteousness and who ever pleaded for as clean a ministry as for our rights, should be remembered. Mr. J. J. Thomas, the author of the "Creole Grammar" says, "But it is as a poet that posterity will hail her in the coming ages of our race;, for pathos, depth of spiritual insight, and magical exercise* of a rare power of self utterance, it will hardly!,be questioned that she has surpassed every competitor among females—white or black save and except Elizabeth Barrett Browning, with whom the gifted African stands on much the, same plane of poetic excellence." (p. 259, "Froudacity").
In far Demarara, British Guiana, there lived "Leo" the poet (Egbert Martin), He was much revered and loved. One of the stanzas in the British national anthem is his. It was put there after acceptance by a commission, who had invited the entire British Empire to participate. "Leo's Poems" was printed in London during 1888. The following lines are an excerpt
"O sovereign Night J to thee is kindly given
The gentler power that draws us nearer heaven;
Thine is the subtler spell and nobler art
To touch the' finer chords within the heart;
Thine is the hand which lays contention by,
And softly wipes the tear from sorrow's eye,
And lulls the erring senses into calm,
And spreads o'er every wound some cooling balm;
Thine is the hour that calls from mem'ry's voice
And strain which makes the very soul rejoice "
The poetical works of D.A. Payne, Charlotte Forten Grimke, J. Madison Bell, and other stars of different degrees of magnitude are entitled to meritorious consideration by our learned men. Paul Laurence Dunbar's work need no fulsome praise from me. His life work is completed, he has left us "A poet soaring in the high reason of his fancies, With his garland and singing robes about him" Milton. "Walker's Appeal" was a remarkable brochure. Very few persons of this generation know of it, and'those of the past have expressed a cold desire to inspect its pages. It was written by a Negro named David Walker, formerly of Wilmington, N. C., but at that time of Boston, Mass. His pamphlet was circulated carefully wherever that stain of slavery was apparent, it ran through three editions. And the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet republished it and had it added to a lecture he gave in 1844. It created the wildest feeling in the Southern States and every effort was made by the Southern executives to quench the spirit tlidt animated Walker's Appeal. Samuel J. May in his "Recol lections of Our Anti-Slavery Conflict" (p. 163) says: "In Sep¬ tember 1829, he published his "Appeal" to the colored citizens of the world, in particular and very expressly to those of the United States." "It was a pamphlet of more than 80 octavo pages, ably written very impassioned and well adapted to its purposes. The 2nd and 3rd editions of it were published in less than twelve months, and to them Mr. Walker devoted himself until his death, which happened soon after the distribution of his appeal to colored men." Walker's Appeal is one of the rarest anti-slavery tracts. I have only seen two copies and a reprint of the Appeal, in the possession of Mr. W. C. Bolivar. Here is an illustration of a Negro, sending seditious literature to disseminate the ghastly truth of the debasing influence of slavery, or as Crummell has said, the "bold outcry." So is the Rev. Coker's "A Dialogue between a Virginian and an African Minister," printed in Baltimore, Md.
The slave narratives offer a vast field to select from; they represent a collection of facts mingled with pain. The anguish and the vissicitudes are related, with candor and pathos. And yet there is much of invaluable use, pertaining to different states, telling of conditions to be found elsewhere. John Brown's narrative deals with slavery in Georgia, William Wells Brown with Kentucky and Missouri, whereas Frederick Douglass and Samuel Ringgold Ward deal with conditions in Maryland. Each one gives the different shading to the subject and portrays with remarkable fidelity the naked truth. These men lived for the attainment of greater usefulness.
Frederick Douglass of imperishable memory was the "cataract that roared." His imagery was fine, vivid. Douglass was the lecturer, powerful in invective. He told the story of his wrongs, so that they stood out in all their naked ugliness. And Samuel Ringgold Ward was the debater, the wit, always self-possessed and never disconcerted, always clear and forcible. He had the power not only to examine but to enable you to see the fairness of that examination and the justness of its conclusions. Such was the opinion of William J. Wilson, after having heard these two champions debate. The work carried on and done independently by Samuel R. Ward in England, in behalf of our cause, has not received the proper appreciation of our people. The "Narrative," "My Bondage and My Freedom" and others of Douglass' pamphlets together with Samuel R. Ward's "Autobiog-raphy of a Runaway Slave," are useful and inspiring models for our children to have before them.
Alexandre Poushkin, a Negro descendant, has crowned himself with glory in Russia. Few of his works have been translated into English, except "Prose Tales" (Keane. ed.) "Marie", "The Captain's Daughter" and his narrative of his grand father, an unfinished work. He was a prolific writer. Suffice it to say that he was a luminary in Russian literature and as a poet was called the "Black Byron."
The works of Alexandre Dumas are too well known for me to bring to your notice. He was the king of romance and historical novels.
"Clothel or the President's Daughter" by William Wells Brown was one of the first anti-slavery novels written by our men. It was originally printed in London 1853 anc^ America at the close of the same year. The London publication says, that Thomas Jefferson was the father of two slave girls Clothel and Althesa. But in the later the American edition, no mention is made of the circumstance. Frank J. Webb published in London "The Garies and Their Friends" with an introduction by Mrs. Harriet B. Stowe and a prefatory letter from Lord Brougham. Dunbar's novels, his "Uncalled", "Fanatics", 'The Heart of Happy Hollow" and others are sure indication of the usefulness of this kind of reading matter. No one, I am sure, decries the classics. They stand as models of excellence. The description of the battle of Waterloo by Victor Hugo is claimed to be a perfect literary composition. But we like to read of the exploits of our men, we love to read of them doing a manly act. There is courage beneath the black skin as well as the white skin. So let us have our deeds and our meeds of praise set up for the inspiration and edification of our people.
James Anthony Froude, the great English historian, the Herodotus of English polite letters, during the year 1888, took a trip to the West Indies and wrote a book entitled the "British in the West Indies", which reflects on the Negroes of the several islands as well as on the ability of the islanders to measure up to any degree of representation. Up to this time, Froude enjoyed the praises of the English speaking critics. It was left for a Negro from Trinidad, who is noted for having given the Creole language the dignity of a grammar,—the Hon. John Jacob Thomas—to come forward and answer the mighty Froude. Mr. C. Salriion, an Englishman, be it said, took Mr. Froude to task for some aspersions in a book called "West Indian Confederation". Thence came Thomas, who not only set to rights the pages of Mr. Froude's book, but showed the English speaking people the fallacy of this great man, his habit of misquoting history, how inaccurately he handled the king's English, how painful it was for him to set the book aright and correct sentence after sentence. This work of an obscure Negro opened the flood gates. And the English critics took notice and the downfall of the English Herodotus occurred with a dull sickening thud. Mr. Thomas' book is called "Froudacity." It was coined from the words "Froude-Audacity" and was published in Philadelphia, Pa., 1890.
In 1892, Mr. F. A. Durham, an African, published the "Lone Star of Liberia" and took pains to express his opinion of Froude and things English. Thence came Mr. Leger of the Haytian diplomatic service to add a little more castigation to Froude in his book "Haiti, Her History and Her Detractors." The reading of such books is not only useful but profitable and interesting.
There have been written many histories of our people in slavery, peace and war, each one serving a purpose. These books have been useful to disseminate the fragmentary knowledge to localities, where the spark of learning has awakened the soul to thirst for more and better food. From Alexander's history in 1888 to George W. Williams "History of the Negro Race in America" published in 1893, there is an improvement. The latter is not perfect, yet no other work has appeared to eclipse it. No books have been read with more zeal and interest than Wilson's the "Black Phalanx," William C. Nell's "The Negro Patriots of the Revolution" and William Wells Brown's "The Black Man" and the "Rising Sun". These have been our landmarks, our rock of ages, let us place around them the inspiring love so that the scholars of today with the vast opportunities, the splendid equipment, and the great expectations of the "survival of the fittest" will be spurred to do things by which we will be remembered, and in the coming days will be heralded for racial identity, racial preservation and racial unity. We will not pass without a word about Ebenezer Bassett, a moulder of future character in "The Institute for the Colored Youth", first Negro United States Minister to Hayti, a member of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and an author of consequence. His hand-book on Hayti has been for years a guide to merchants. Mrs. Fannie Jackson Coppin has just closed her eyes from the pleasant toils of uplift. She was identified with "The Institute for the Colored Youth". Such work is meritorious, praiseworthy and lasting. Her "Methods of Teaching." with a biography, a posthumous work is a mirror of herself. In the domain of theology, there is much that is useful for the spiritual consolation of our race. Bishop Richard Allen, the inspiring founder of the first Negro Church was the black St. Peter, for he was the rock, upon which we built our independent religious organizations His autobiography is a narrative of his experiences under the protecting light of the Christian religion. Absalom Jones represented the mentality of the movement. Thence came Rev. Gloucester with sermons of praises and admonition, Bishop Rush, Bishop Payne of exemplary life both by precept and practice, William Douglass' "Sermons" in 1852. And after his "Annals of St. Thomas' Church", Rev. Edward W. Blyden appeared with his Negro in Ancient History" and his "Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race," which attracted the world to his great erudition. Afterwards came Rev. Perry with his "Cushite" and Rev. Alexander Crummell, the English scholar, the author of the "Future of Africa", "Africa and America" and "The Greatness of Christ," the peer of any divine of excellence in his church. Archdeacon Phillips of Philadelphia has well said of Crummell "as a thinker and writer he had no superior among the colored men of his country and not many among the whites * * * Whoever studies his writings will drink deep from the well of English unde- filed." (In Memoriam)
Among our men who have attained distinction for having in a try measure served in any exploration, mention must be made of Bishop Crowther's "Journal of an Expedition up the Niger and Tshadda Rivers," published in London 1855. The book telling of the' work carried out by the members is in itself very illuminating. Years afterwards, another expedition was undertaken from the United States, Dr. Martin R. Delany and the scientist Robert Campbell, a former professor of "The Institute for Colored Youth" were members of the expedition who have left tangible evidences of their ability and attainment, the former in his "Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Party" and the latter in "A Pilgrimage to my Motherland" both published during 1861.
This paper has already gone beyond its limits; but I cannot close without a word about Melbourn's interesting book where he gives an account of his invitation and dinner with Thomas Jefferson, Chief Justice Marshall of the United States Supreme Court and others: "I remained in the neighborhood of Monticello nearly a week, and spent a portion of every day in Mr. Jefferson's library, at his pressing invitation. On Tuesday before I left these quiet philosophical shades, I received a card from Mr. Jefferson, inviting me to dine with him in company with a few friends the next day at four o'clock. I went to his home and there found Chief-Justice Marshall, Mr. Wirt, Mr. Samuel Dexter of Boston, and Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell of New York. * * * The topic of conversation was slavery and emancipation. Melbourn was "roused from the revery occasioned by this train of thought," by Mr. Jefferson saying to Mr. Leland:—"I am happy to have it in my power at this moment to prove to you and Dr. Mitchell, by ocular demonstration, that the experience of one of you and the theory of the other, has led to erroneous conclusions. Look at the young gentleman who sits opposite you. "In the meantime" continued he, "Mr. Melbourn, allow me the pleasure of drinking a glass of wine with you. Mr. Melbourn", added Mr. Jefferson, "was born a slave, and is of African descent, though he has considerable Saxon blood in his veins. He was enfranchised by a pious and benevolent lady, and is now a man of wealths He has by his own efforts and industry cultivated and well-improved his mind,—a mind which I religiously believe, your missionary observations, friend Leland, and Dr. Mitchell's dissections to the contrary nothwithstanding, is of the first order of human intellects." (Life and Opinions of Julius Melbourn, by Jabez D. Hammond, Syracuse, N. Y. 1851)
Bannaker's Almanacs; Symonds "Men of Mark"; Still's Underground Railway"; Africanus Horton's medical books on African fevers are notable works. John Mensah Sarbah, the distinguished lawyer, who was knighted by Queen Victoria and made a Companion of the most distinguished order of C. M. G., for having given the English nation "The Fanti Customary Laws" must be mentioned also. When called upon to "appear before the Legislative Council to urge reasons against the Land's Bill of 1897" he said, "I do not spurn or refuse the very handsome retainer of 400 guineas but in serving my country, the land of my birth, within her borders, I seek no reward, nor expect any renumeration; and did I ever dream of any recognition for such humble services which I have performed, the fact that, at such a crisis, my countrymen selected me to plead their cause, is in itself a solemn honor which will not be unremem- bered or unappreciated by me."
We must bear in mind that galaxy of Haytian writers, and poets. Spencer St. John who was so bitter in his book against the Haytians devotes 17 pages to the serious consideration of its literature. He pays a high compliment to Madiou, Fils, "The History of Haiti" in 4 volumes and Ardouin's "Etudes sur l'Histoire d'Haiti" in 11 8vo volumes.
This paper is devoted exclusively to Negro authors, who have striven in life to help their fellow men; for that reason I have not mentioned our sincere and helpful white friends who fought and battled with us. Such as Blumenbach in his "Anthropological Treatises"; Abbe Gregoire in his "Litterature des Negres"; Thomas Clarkson in his "Works and Essays"; Anthony Benezet in his Tracts; Granville Sharp in his many tomes; L. Maria Child in her "Appeal" and her "Freedom's Book"; Armistead in his "Tribute to the Negro" and others, resplendent stars whose light illuminated our path to the North Star that gave us hope and spiritual courage to obtain our liberty.
We have reached the crucial period of our educational existence. I have shown by a few examples of the past available and useful material upon which we can base our future structure. We have chairs of almost everything, and believe we lack nothing, but we sadly need a chair of Negro history. The white institutions have their chair of history; it is the history of their people and whenever the Negro is mentioned in the text 'books it dwindles down to a foot note. The white scholar's mind and heart is fired, because in the temple of learning he is told' how on the 5th of .March, 1770, the Americans were able to beat the English; but to find Crispus Attucks it is necessary to go deep into special books. In the orations delivered at Bunker Hill, Daniel Webster never mentioned the Negroes having done anything, and is silent about Peter Salem; In the account of the battle of Long Island City and around New York under Major-General Nathaniel Greene, no mention is made of the 800 Negro soldiers who periled their lives in the Revolutionary war. Cases can be shown right and left of the palpable omissions. . Weiss in his Life of Theodore Parker publishes a letter from Parker to historian Bancroft telling him "here is what I get about Africans at the battle of Bunker Hill; fighting in it, I mean; my friend Wm. C. Nell, a colored man of this city, helped me to the facts. He has written quite a valuable book on "The Colored Patriots of the Revolution", Boston, 1855. * * * When you publish your volume I wish you would send Nell a copy. Negroes get few honors, Yours faithfully. Theodore Parker."
Where is our historian to give us, our side view and our chair of Negro History to teach our people our own history. We are at the mercy of the "flotsam and jetsam" of the white writers. The very learned Rev. Alexander Crummell before the lAmerican Negro Academy, stated that he heard J. C. Calhoun say that the inferiority of the Negro was so self evident that he would not believe him human unless he could conjugate Greek verbs; and yet it must have been self evident to Calhoun that in North Carolina there were many Negroes held as slaves who could read and write Arabic (see Hodgson, W. B. "The Gospels in the Negro patois" etc., N. Y. 1857) *n those days men like Juan Latino, Amo, Capitein, Francis Williams, Rev. J. C. Pennington and others could not only conjugate the Greek and Hebrew verbs, but had shown unmistakably evidences of learning, for they had received degrees from Universities of world famed reputation. Yet in those days there were many whites unrestrained, enjoying the opportunities of education, who could not conjugate Greek roots nor verbs of the spoken language of the land. Yet this barrier was set up to persons restrained by force from the enjoyment of the most ordinary rights.
We need in the coming dawn the man, who will give us the background for our future, it matters not whether he comes from the cloisters of the university or from the rank and file of the fields. We await his coming, a "Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, But looks through nature up to nature's God." Pope. The Anglo-Saxon is effusive in his praises to the Saxon Shepherds who lived on the banks of the river Elbe, to whom he pays blind allegiance. We need the historian and philosopher to give us, with trenchant pen, the story of our forefathers and let our soul and body, with phosphorescent light, brighten the chasm that separates us. And we should cling to them just as "blood is thicker than water". W'hen the fact has been put down in the scroll of time, that the Negroes of Africa smelted ircr and tempered bronzes, at the time Europe was wielding stone implements; that "the use of letters was introduced among the savages of Europe about. 1500 B.C. and the European carried them to American about the XV century after the Christian •era'"' that "Phoenicia and Palestine will forever live in the memory of mankind, since America as well as Europe has received letters from the one and religion from the other" (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.—Gibbons), we will feel prouder of the achievements of our sires. We must research diligently the annals of time and bring back from obscurity the dormant examples of agriculture, industry and commerce, upon these the arts and sciences and make common the battle ground' of our heritage.