New Poem by Jupiter Hammon, a Slave, Discovered at Yale Library

Jupiter Hammon was born into slavery in 1711. Although a slave, he attended school and learned to read and write. Later in life he wrote essays and poetry and is generally considered the first African American writer to be published.

The_University_of_Texas_at_ArlingtonNow a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington has discovered a handwritten poem written by Hammon in the Manuscripts and Archives Library at Yale University. Julie McGown was searching the archives of another work by Hammon in the library when she came across the manuscript among 80 cartons of historical documents from families for which Hammon had served in slavery. The previously unknown poem, written in 1787,  is entitled An Essay on Slavery. McGown and Cederick May, an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Arlington verified the work as being authored by Hammon.

The poem and the story of its discovery and authentication will be published in the June issue of the journal Early American Literature.

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