Cover image for Martin R. Delany : a documentary reader
Martin R. Delany : a documentary reader
Delany, Martin Robison, 1812-1885.
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 507 pages ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1470 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.97.D33 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E185.97.D33 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E185.97.D33 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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Martin R. Delany (1812-85) has been called the "Father of Black Nationalism," but his extraordinary career also encompassed the roles of abolitionist, physician, editor, explorer, politician, army officer, novelist, and political theorist. Despite his enormous influence in the nineteenth century, and his continuing influence on black nationalist thought in the twentieth century, Delany has remained a relatively obscure figure in U.S. culture, generally portrayed as a radical separatist at odds with the more integrationist Frederick Douglass.

This pioneering documentary collection offers readers a chance to discover, or rediscover, Delany in all his complexity. Through nearly 100 documents--approximately two-thirds of which have not been reprinted since their initial nineteenth-century publications--it traces the full sweep of his fascinating career. Included are selections from Delany's early journalism, his emigrationist writings of the 1850s, his 1859-62 novel, Blake (one of the first African American novels published in the United States), and his later writings on Reconstruction. Incisive and shrewd, angry and witty, Delany's words influenced key nineteenth-century debates on race and nation, addressing issues that remain pressing in our own time.

Author Notes

Robert S. Levine is professor of English and director of graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

One of the most influential African American leaders of the 19th century, abolitionist, physician, and editor Delany (1812-85) is considered the father of black nationalism. Gathered here are 100 selections from his early journalism, his emigrationist writings of the 1850s, a novel, and other works. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Levine (English, Univ. of Maryland; Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the Politics of Representative Identity, CH, Oct'97) has compiled nearly 100 of the key Delany documents. These letters, articles, tracts, and excerpts from novels and biographies demonstrate Delany's breadth as a writer and leader, a personality far more complex than his epithet, Father of Black Nationalism, indicates. Levine divides Delany's life into six chronological and ideological phases that witnessed a pragmatic approach to black uplift, one that supported integration, emigration, separatism, patriotism, and Black Nationalism. The collection balances Delany's integration and emigration impulses and is unique in its inclusion of documents from the 1865 to 1885 period. Levine's editing of each document and subsection provides essential context but lacks depth, especially of the biographical information for key black leaders. There are some inaccuracies, e.g., Charles Langston was not born a slave, and Charles and his brother John are confused in the notes and index. Levine presents Delany's motives as benign and often overlooks more egoistic explanations for his behavior. These are minor flaws, however, and this reader is required for anyone trying to comprehend Delany's contributions. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. A. Luckett formerly, United States Military Academy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
A Note on the Textsp. 23
Part 1 Pittsburgh, the Mystery, Freemasonryp. 25
Prospectus of the Mysteryp. 30
Not Fairp. 32
Liberty or Deathp. 34
Young Womenp. 35
Self-Elevation Tract Societyp. 36
Farewell to Readers of the Mysteryp. 38
Eulogy on the Life and Character of the Rev. Fayette Davisp. 41
The Origin and Objects of Ancient Freemasonryp. 49
Part 2 The North Starp. 69
Western Tour for the North Starp. 73
True Patriotismp. 137
Sound the Alarmp. 141
Liberiap. 144
Political Economyp. 149
Domestic Economyp. 151
Southern Customs--Madame Chevalierp. 157
Annexation of Cubap. 160
The Redemption of Cubap. 167
Letter to M. H. Burnham, 5 October 1849p. 170
Delany and Frederick Douglass on Samuel R. Wardp. 175
Part 3 Debating Black Emigrationp. 181
Protest against the First Resolution of the North American Conventionp. 187
The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United Statesp. 189
Letter to Oliver Johnson, 30 April 1852p. 217
Letter to William Lloyd Garrison, 14 May 1852p. 219
Letter to Frederick Douglass, 10 July 1852p. 221
Delany and Douglass on Uncle Tom's Cabinp. 224
Letter to Douglass, 30 May 1853p. 238
Call for a National Emigration Convention of Colored Menp. 240
Letter to Douglass, 7 November 1853p. 243
Political Destiny of the Colored Race on the American Continentp. 245
Political Aspect of the Colored People of the United Statesp. 280
What Does It Mean?p. 291
Letter to Garrison, 19 February 1859p. 295
Blake; or, The Huts of Americap. 297
Cometsp. 313
Part 4 Africap. 315
A Project for an Expedition of Adventurep. 320
Letter to Henry Ward Beecher, 17 June 1858p. 325
Canada--Captain John Brownp. 328
Martin R. Delany in Liberiap. 332
Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Partyp. 336
The International Statistical Congressp. 358
Africa and the African Racep. 362
Letter to James T. Holly, 15 January 1861p. 365
Letter to Robert Hamilton, 28 September 1861p. 368
Letter to James McCune Smith, 11 January 1862p. 370
Letter to the Weekly Anglo-African, 22 January 1862p. 372
The Moral and Social Aspect of Africap. 373
Part 5 Civil War and Reconstructionp. 377
Letter to Edwin M. Stanton, 15 December 1863p. 383
The Council-Chamber--President Lincolnp. 385
The Colored Citizens of Xeniap. 389
Monument to President Lincoln: Two Documentsp. 392
Prospects of the Freedmen of Hilton Headp. 396
Triple Alliancep. 401
Letter to the Colored Delegation, 22 February 1866p. 403
Letter to Andrew Johnson, 25 July 1866p. 406
Letter to Henry Highland Garnet, 27 July 1867p. 409
Reflections on the Warp. 411
University Pamphletsp. 415
Homes for the Freedmenp. 425
Delany and Frederick Douglass, Letter Exchange, 1871p. 431
Delany for Lieutenant Governor: Two Speechesp. 442
The South and Its Foesp. 448
Delany for Hamptonp. 452
Politics on Edisto Islandp. 456
Part 6 The Republic of Liberiap. 459
Letter on President Warner of Liberia, 1866p. 463
The African Exodusp. 466
Principia of Ethnology: The Origin of Races and Colorp. 468
Letter to William Coppinger, 18 December 1880p. 484
Chronologyp. 487
Selected Bibliographyp. 491
Indexp. 495