Critical Anthology of the Writings of Colored Americans during the Eighteenth Century



Critical Anthology of the Writings of Colored Americans during the Eighteenth Century

This edition

"Critical Anthology of the Writings of Colored Americans during the Eighteenth Century" . Ed. Ieda Mae Toney-Wynne. MA Thesis. Boston University, 1948. 151 pp.

Online access

Boston University

Table of contents

• [Front Matter:] Preface – Table of Portraits [Olaudah Equiana, Prince Hall, Lemuel Haynes] –
• Introduction: The Colored American Writer in the Eigtheenth Century –

• Briton Hammon / A Narrative –
• Phillis Wheatley / To the University of Cambridge, in New England ;
• Phillis Wheatley / On Imagination
• Phillis Wheatley / To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth ;
• Phillis Wheatley / To S. M., a Young African Painter on Seeing His Works ;
• Phillis Wheatley / Goliath of Gath ;
• Phillis Wheatley / Niobe in Distress for Her Children ;
• Phillis Wheatley / A Farewell to America ;
• Phillis Wheatley / Letter to George Washington ;
• Phillis Wheatley / Liberty and Peace –
• Crispus Attucks / Letter to Thomas Hutchinson –
• Slaves in Boston / Petition of Slaves in Boston –
• Jupiter Hammon / Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly ;
• Jupiter Hammon / An Address to the Negroes in the State of New-York –
• Alexander Hamilton / Letter to John Jay –
• Lancaster Hill and others / Petition of Massachusetts Slaves –
• Belinda / Petition of an African –
• John Marrant / A Narrative –
• 'Othello' / Essay on Slavery –
• Olaudah Eqquiano / Letter to the Parliament of Great Britain ;
• Olaudah Equiano / The Interesting Narrative: excerpts from chapters two, seven, twelve –
• Benjamin Banneker / Letter to Thomas Jefferson ;
• Benjamin Banneker / A Plan of Peace-Office for the United States ;
• Benjamin Banneker / A Problem –
• Richard Allen / A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People –
• Absalom Jones / A Thanksgiving Sermon –
• Prince Hall / A Charge –
• Lemuel Haynes / The Nature and Importance of True Republicanism ; Universal Salvation –
• Conclusion –
• Bibliography –
• An Abstract.

About the anthology

• from Preface: "The physical makeup of this collection consists of a general introduction, 'The Colored American Writer in the Eighteenth Century,' biographical and critical notes, selections arranged chronologically [from "approximatley fifteen colored writers" (iv)], a Conclusion, a Bibliography, and an Abstract" (v)
• from Preface: "The general introduction presents a brief literary history, and the special notes present additional biographical facts and criticisms of particular literary works. Both Vernon Loggins' "The Negro Author" (1931) and Benjamin Brawley's "The Negro Genius" (1937) provided much literary historical information. Other reference works which aided considerably in the preparation of this study were George W. Williams' "The History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880" (1882), a social history, and "The Cambridge History of American Liiterature", Volume I (1943), by W. P. Trent and others, a literary history of American literature in general" (v).
• from Preface: "With the exception of Benjamin Brawley, compiler of "Early Negro American Writers" (1935), few anthologists of American literature have made mention of these writers or have included the writings of these eighteenth century colored writers in their collections. Brawley's anthology, which considered the literature of the eighteenth century and the // nineteenth century to the Civil War, emphasized the writers and writings of the nineteenth century, presenting seven eighteenth century writers and fourteen nineteenth century authors. "The Negro Caravan" (1941), by Brown, Davis and Lee, the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of the writings of colored Americans, mentions the writings of two of the eighteenth century writers" (iv-v).
• Abstract (147-51): "This compilation, "Critical Anthology of the Writings of Colored Americans During the Eighteenth Century", has attempted to present representative selections from the best literary, published works of the eighteenth century colored American authors along with biographical and critical notes. Only Benjamin Griffith Brawley in "Early Negro American Writers" (1935) has tried to represent this period adequately, but even Brawley did not introduce more than seven of these authors.
"The specific aims of this study were as follows: (1) to offer a larger body of the best eighteenth century colored American literature; (2) to consider the subject matter of this literature for social, historical and psychological facts; and (3) to forecast, if possible, the probable development of the descendants of this minority group in the field of literature and in relationship to the American writer in general.
"The physical makeup of the anthology consisted of a general introduction entitled 'The Colored American Writer in the Eighteenth Century,' biographical and critical notes, selections arranged chronologically [from "approximatley fifteen colored writers" (iv)], a conclusion, and a // [p. 148] bibliography. The chief literary [history] used in the preparation of this work was Vernon Loggins' "The Negro Author" (1931); the chief social history of the race was George W. Williams' "The History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880" (1882); and the chief literary history of American literature was W. P. Trent and others' "The Cambridge History of American Literature"" (147-48).
Discusses the library collections consulted and gives brief summary of the writings associated with each author included in the collection (148-50). Alexander Hamilton, "claimed both by the majority and the minority, recognized as the greatest American" (149), is the main controversial selection in this collection.
"The literary products of these writers, whereas ["sic"] serious in tone, exhibited various degrees of quality, based probably to a great extent on the degree of educational opportunity afforded the writer. In quality, the works of Alexander Hamilton, Phllis Wheatley, Lemuel Haynes, Benjamin Banneker, 'Othello', who were well educated according to the standards of the times, surpassed in quality the works of Briton Hammon, Jupiter Hammon, Olaudah Equiano, Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, Crispus Attucks, John Marrant, Prince Hall, Lancaster Hill, Belina and others. The educated writers expressed themselves with sophistication, with precision, and with skill. The other writers showed purpose and clarity in their works, but also exhibited weaknesses in composition form. But together they experimented with the following types: letter, narrative, autobiography, eulogy, elegy, ode, hymn, sermon, essay, paraphrase, mystery story, petition, address, and others" (150).

See also

• "Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the Eighteenth Century". Ed. Vincent Carretta. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1996. (Carretta's anthology includes Afro-Britons, as well persons of African descent who lived and published works in the American colonies. The main "African American" author Carretta includes who is missing from Toney-Wynne's anthology is Venture Smith; however, Carretta's anthology does not include several of the writers included here: Crispus Attucks, Slaves in Boston, Alexander Hamilton, "Othello," Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, Prince Hall, Lemuel Haynes. The overlapping authors—though not necessarily the same selections from these authors—are Briton Hammon, Phillis Wheatley, "Belinda," Jupiter Hammon, Olaudah Equiano, and Benjamin Banneker.)

Cited in

• [not in Kinnamon 1997]

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