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America's History in the Making

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Excerpted from Walker's Appeal

Walker's Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America, Written in Boston, State of Massachusetts, September 28, 1829.

The man who would not fight under our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in the glorious and heavenly cause of freedom and of God—to be delivered from the most wretched, abject and servile slavery, that ever a people was afflicted with since the foundation of the world, to the present day—ought to be kept with all of his children or family, in slavery, or in chains, to be butchered by his cruel enemies.

Are we MEN!! I ask you, O my brethren! are we MEN? Did our Creator make us to be slaves to dust and ashes like ourselves? Are they not dying worms as well as we? Have they not to make their appearance before the tribunal of Heaven, to answer for the deeds done in the body, as well as we? Have we any other Master but Jesus Christ alone? Is he not their Master as well as ours?—What right then, have we to obey and call any other Master, but Himself? How we could be so submissive to a gang of men, whom we cannot tell whether they are as good as ourselves or not, I never could conceive. However, this is shut up with the Lord, and we cannot precisely tell—but I declare, we judge men by their works.

The whites have always been an unjust, jealous, unmercifu1, avaricious and blood-thirsty set of beings, always seeking after power and authority.—We view them all over the confederacy of Greece, where they were first known to be any thing, (in consequence of education) we see them there, cutting each other's throats—trying to subject each other to wretchedness and misery—to effect which, they used all kinds of deceitful, unfair, and unmerciful means. We view them next in Rome, where the spirit of tyranny and deceit raged still higher. We view them in Gaul, Spain, and in Britain.—In fine, we view them all over Europe, together with what were scattered about in Asia and Africa, as heathens, and we see them acting more like devils than accountable men. But some may ask, did not the blacks of Africa, and the mulattoes of Asia, go on in the same way as did the whites of Europe. I answer, no—they never were half so avaricious, deceitful and unmerciful as the whites, according to their knowledge.

David Walker, Appeal in Four Articles, together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World... (September 1829). (New York: Hill and Wang, 1965).

Creator David Walker
Context Radical abolitionism, which called for the immediate abolition of slavery, was just starting to become a strong reform movement in 1829.
Audience African Americans
Purpose To help to create revolts against slavery

Historical Significance

David Walker was born in the 1790s in North Carolina to a free mother and was therefore able to settle in Boston, where he had a store that sold used clothes. There he joined other African Americans in denouncing slavery.

Most abolitionists focused on white politicians and slave holders. Walker's Appeal, first published in 1829 and again in 1830, spoke to free blacks and to slaves. Walker smuggled copies of his pamphlet into the South, where it buoyed slaves and enraged whites, who put a price of $3,000 on Walker's head.

Walker died shortly less than a year after his pamphlet appeared. Many of his friends understandably suspected poisoning, though he may have had tuberculosis.

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