Providence: Angell & Co., 1883. 230pp. Original brown cloth, front board gilt. Minor staining and edge wear to boards, spine ends slightly chipped. Text moderately toned, a handful of passages underlined in blue ink. Overall very good. Item #WRCAM55380
A rare and notable African-American autobiography. William J. Brown (1814-85), the son of an African-American man and a Narragansett Indian woman, provides a rich description of what the life of an African American in Rhode Island was like in the 19th century. At the time of this writing, Brown, a shoemaker and Baptist minister, had lost his sight and was nearly paralyzed, probably from arthritis. He relates that he wishes to set down his narrative not only for financial support, but also for posterity, to give the rising generation "conception of the discouragements and disadvantages with which their parents had to contend." Brown relates much of Rhode Island history in his narrative, beginning with an account of his grandfather, an African slave, brought to Rhode Island by the noted Quaker Moses Brown (before Moses Brown turned against slavery). He also writes about the black perspective on temperance, his participation in organizing a local unit of black troops to fight in the Civil War, and the community response to the Emancipation Proclamation. Rare, interesting, and highly readable. LIBRARY COMPANY, AFRO-AMERICANA 1718. KAPLAN 738.