Scope and Contents
The Black Poet was the 1865 annouced title of a work to be published that was to contain "a concise history of the life" of George Moses Horton, bard and recently freed slave. Richard Walser used the 1865 title for his 1996 work on Horton, since no evidence exists that the 1865 book was ever written. Walser wrote his "concise history" during part of a year he spent on a Guggenheim Fellowship. Claude Howell created the drawings for the book. This collection contains the manuscript draft that was sent to Claude Howell and is not the final draft. The index is not included.
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George Moses Horton (ca. 1797-ca. 1883) has been called "the most remarkable literary figure ever born in North Carolina" and the "state's most amazing natural poet" according to research done by Richard Walser. Horton held a unique place in history--he was the first slave poet of the South; the first southern black man to have his poetry published; the country's first black professional man of letters who earned his living from writing; and his was the first clear black outcry in poetic form against slavery (Richmond, 81). Placing Horton into context, he accomplished all of these firsts at a time when slaves by law were not to be taught to read or write, and wrote love poems to southern white women. By the time Horton was twenty, he had begun selling students at the University of North Carolina acrostics of the name of their sweethearts for twenty-five, fifty and seventy-five cents. Horton published three volumes of poetry: The Hope of Liberty (1829), The Poetical Works of George M. Horton, the Colored Bard of North Carolina, To Which is Prefixed The Life of the Author, Written by Himself (1845) and Naked Genius (1865).
Note written by Lana Donaldson Taylor
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