The American Negro


Book Details

Author  William Hannibal Thomas
Publication Date   July 28, 2010
Pages  476


This volume was published in 1901.

Dedication from the book:
Written in the hope that all members of the race still
fettered by ignorance or spiritual blindness may by its
teachings be inspired to to noble thoughts and deeds,
is dedicated to all American men and women of Negroid
ancestry who have grown to the full stature of manhood
and womanhood.

Excerpts from the book's Foreword:
None of my ancestors "was owned in slavery, so
far as my knowledge goes. On my mother's side
I come from German and English stock. My ma-
ternal grandfather, the son of a white indentured
female servant by a colored man, was born at Bed-
ford, Pennsylvania, about the year 1758. My mater-
nal grandmother was a white German woman, born
in 1770, and brought up at Hagerstown, Maryland.
This branch of my ancestry emigrated to Ohio in
1792, and settled near the town of Marietta, where
my mother was born, in 1812. On the paternal side,
both of my grandparents, who were of mixed blood,
were Virginians by birth. My father, who was
born in the year 1808, near Moorfield, in Hardy
County, removed to Ohio before attaining his ma-
jority. I was born on a farm, in a log cabin, on the
fourth day of May, 1843, in Jackson Township, Picka-
way County, Ohio. My earliest memories recall
my father and mother with their circle of children
gathered round the family fireside Sabbath afternoons
engaged in reading the Scriptures, and recitations
of the Decalogue and the Shorter Catechism. These
wholesome teachings, including the morning orisons
and evening prayers, with the never omitted suppli-
cation for "those who were in bonds," produced
indelible impressions on my youthful mind, and
exerted an abiding influence over my life.

This reference to the daily prayers for an enslaved
class indicates that I was bred in an atmosphere of
aversion to human bondage. Action, however, not
speech merely, opened my understanding, and gave
me positive convictions concerning life and liberty.
For, as far back as I can remember, my parents'
home was the rendezvous of escaping slaves, from
whose recital my childish heart drank in the miseries
of human chattel. My father was an active conductor
on the " Underground Railroad, " and, besides shelter-
ing and succoring slavery's unfortunate victims, spent
many of his nights in transporting his passengers
nearer to their haven of refuge. Nor was he alone
in this respect ; there were many others in that state,
which was a chief gateway between slavery and
freedom, to whom no panegyrics have been sung,
and whose names are not emblazoned in historic
annals, but who, nevertheless, put in jeopardy their
lives and liberty, to protect and defend the fleeing
subjects of an atrocious enthralment and bear them
weU on the way to a land of freedom.

I came into this world a child of poverty, and my
early days were spent in struggle for the maintenance
of myself and others. Moreover, having no excep-
tional mental or physical traits, and inheriting the
weakness as well as the strength which comes from
even legitimate race admixture, I suffered the addi-
tional disadvantage of having been brought up in the
seclusion of country life, and kept in ignorance of
many things accounted wise. Therefore, when in my
early youth, with scant human wisdom, I was sud-
denly thrust into contact with public activities, I had
no guide but a slowly growing experience; which
experience I found to be an inexorable teacher, one
that never condoned a fault nor erased a blunder.

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