University of Virginia Acquires Rare Abolitionist Pamphlet

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia has acquired one of only seven known copies of the 1829 pamphlet by African American David Walker entitled, 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.

Walker was born in North Carolina in 1785. His mother was free but his father was a slave. He operated a clothing store in Boston that catered to black sailors.

The 76-page work criticizes Thomas Jefferson’s stereotypical observations of Negroes in his Notes on the State of Virginia. (A copy of Jefferson’s treatise is also housed in the special collections unit of the University of Virginia Library.) Walker’s work called for the end of slavery by any means necessary including violence. At the early stage of the abolitionist movement when Walker’s work was published, it was not well accepted and the distribution of the text was suppressed throughout the United States.

Walker’s work now has been digitized and can be viewed online. The original work acquired by the university sits in an exhibition case in the lobby of the special collections unit. The work was bought for the University of Virginia by funds from the Robert and Virginia Tunstall Trust.