The Gospel Coalition

Well, it seems that slavery and things related is in the air these days. Yesterday a good friend sent me this link to an NPR interview. The interview features a short discussion with Cedrick May, assistant professor of English at University of Texas, Arlington, about the recent discovery of an unpublished poem written by Jupiter Hammon on slavery.

For those unfamiliar with Hammon, he is known as the father of African-American literature, being the first published. He was an evangelic Calvinistic Christian who lived his entire life as a slave. The discovered poem, unlike most of his work, focuses on slavery. In it, he defines slavery as a sin--a bold move in the latter half of the 1700s--and reckons it incompatible with genuine Christian witness.

The interview is brief. And like all his work, the poem is theologically rich and thoughtful. Check it out.



[...] We call people like Garrison “radicals” for a reason—they lie outside the mainstream opinion. In fact, the mainstream of both sides claimed to have the Bible’s authority on its side. Where Wilson sees a shrinking away from biblical authority in antebellum arguments over slavery, I see in the main a theological debate about precisely how to apply the Scripture—not whether. At least that seems to be the case among professing Christians on either side of the conflict. Pro-slavery advocates certainly marshaled whatever texts they could in support of the institution (see Fox-Genovese and Genovese, Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview, especially part IV). But, not to be outdone, anti-slavery advocates garnered a full range of texts to make its case for abolition (see, for example, Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, chapter3, and Dillon, Slavery Attacked: Southern Slaves and Their Allies, 16:19-1865). That was especially the case among African Americans as early as the mid-1700s, when African Americans first began to publish. I’m thinking here of men like Lemuel Haynes and his “Liberty Further Extended,” for example, and even the recently discovered poem of Jupiter Hammon. [...]

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Julie Fuller

March 14, 2013 at 02:09 PM

Where is the rest of the poem? Are they not publishing it, or am I missing something? I can only see the first two stanzas, and that is all that is quoted in the interview.