Black Writers of the Founding Era: A Library of America Anthology

Library of America. Nov. 2023. 750p. ed. by James G. Basker & Nicole Seary. ISBN 9781598537345. $40. HIST
Editors Basker and Seary have assembled a diverse trove of legal documents, poems, letters, pamphlets, sermons, memoirs, and plentiful other source documents to provide much more than a glimpse of the struggles, triumphs, and tragedies of a diverse cross-section of Black people living in late 18th- and early 19th-century United States. Here are the words of Black Revolutionary War veterans fighting for the independence of a new nation, or joining the British side in sometimes desperate bids for freedom from their enslavers. Black men and women assert and petition for their rights with inspiring courage and agency against staggering odds, enlisting allies and creating networks of mutual aid in secular and church settings that can be directly traced down to the civil rights movements of the past and present.
VERDICT Adding to Library of America’s exemplary offerings, Slave Narratives (LOA 114), American Antislavery Writings (LOA 233), and Reconstruction (LOA 303), this extraordinary and unrivalled anthology of compelling primary sources (LOA 366) adds vital and necessary background for the lay reader, recovering an often overlooked early era of the long arc of Black United States history. An essential purchase.
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