Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Edward Jones was one of the first individuals of African descent to pursue higher education in the United States. Graduating from Amherst College in 1826, he continued his studies in Connecticut and planned to emigrate to Liberia in 1830. A decade later, he became principal of what is now Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and spent most of the remainder of his life as a naturalized British subject. Correspondence and other documents pertaining to his career in Africa can be found here.
Source: Original Papers, Rev. Edward Jones, CA1/0129, Church Missionary Society Archive, Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham (Birmingham, UK)
One of the most celebrated and influential newspapers from early America, Freedom’s Journal was published in New York City between 1827 and 1829. Leading black intellectuals Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm served as the principal editors. Topics included equal rights, abolitionism, and other political developments both international and domestic.
Issues from Vol. 1 are available here.
Issues from Vol. 2 are available here.
Source: Library of Congress Photoduplication Service (microfilm)
The United States African Squadron patrolled the coast of West Africa from about 1819 through 1861. Similar to its British counterpart, the squadron attempted to suppress the international slave trade between Africa and the Americas. Commodore Matthew Perry, famous for his expedition to Japan, served as the first commander. Although largely ineffective and poorly managed, the Squadron offers an important window on the politics of slavery and emancipation in the nineteenth century. Letters from commanding officers, covering the period 1843 to 1861, are available here.
Source: Letters Received by the Secretary of the Navy from Commanding Officers of Squadrons, Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library, RG 45, National Archives and Records Administration (Washington, DC)
Beginning in the eighteenth century, a movement to oppose slave-produced commodities developed in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. A predecessor of modern consumer boycotts, the movement developed its own free produce stores and independent commodity chains as a strategy to undermine the economic force of slave labor. Ruth Nuermberger’s The Free Produce Movement was the first major scholarly monograph on this important historical phenomenon. Because its copyright expired and was not renewed, her book has entered the public domain and is now available here.
Source: Ruth Ketring Nuermberger, The Free Produce Movement: A Quaker Protest Against Slavery (Durham, NC: 1942)
Born into slavery in Philadelphia in 1818, Samuel Harrison served as the first pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. An outspoken abolitionist, Harrison quickly became an important figure within the movement. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the military and helped to lead the struggle for equal pay for black troops. His autobiography, published in limited numbers toward the end of his life, is extremely rare. It is now available online, for the first time, here.
Source: Harvard University Library Microproduction Department (Cambridge, MA)