Slave Narratives

Who wrote the first pamphlets calling for slave revolts in America?

In 1829 David Walker (c. 1796–1830) published the first pamphlet by an American black calling for a slave revolt, David Walker’s Appeal. Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, he was the son of a free mother and a slave father. Since his mother was free, by law he took her status and was also free. He wandered across the South before settling in Boston in 1825, where he was the proprietor of a shop buying and selling secondhand clothing. Walker worked quickly to make his mark on Boston’s black community, becoming active in the Massachusetts General Colored Association. He assured his fame by publishing Appeal, in Four Articles, Together with a Preamble, to the Colored Citizens of the World, But in Particular, and Very Expressly to Those of the United States of America. Despite efforts to suppress it, the Appeal became one of the most widely circulated pamphlets of the time. The circulation of the work became a crime in the South, and a bounty was placed on Walker’s life. In 1848 The Appeal was published with Henry Highland Garnet’s Address (1843), another call to revolt, in a volume financially supported by abolitionist John Brown.


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