"THE HISTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS FROM THE SLAVE TRADE THROUGH RECONSTRUCTION AND ITS AFTERMATH": IMPORTANT FIRST EDITION OF BLACK HISTORIAN JOHN WESLEY CROMWELL'S GROUNDBREAKING NEGRO IN AMERICAN HISTORY, 1914, WITH BIOGRAPHIES OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, PHILLIS WHEATLEY, NAT TURNER AND OTHERS, AN ESPECIALLY MEMORABLE ASSOCIATION COPY SIGNED BY HIS GRANDDAUGHTER, HISTORIAN DR. ADELAIDE CROMWELL
(CROMWELL, Adelaide) CROMWELL, John Wesley. The Negro in American History. Men and Women Eminent in the Evolution of the American of African Descent. Washington: American Negro Academy, 1914. Octavo, original gilt-lettered green cloth. $3200.
First edition of Cromwell's paramount African American history that "broke fresh ground" in its defining biographies of leaders such as Frederick Douglass and Phillis Wheatley, a major biography of Reconstruction congressman Robert B. Elliot, who crafted a core argument against the 1873 decision in the Slaughter-House Cases, along with accounts of the lives and influence of Henry Highland Garnet, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner and many more. This important association copy stands within that tradition in its owner signature of Cromwell's granddaughter, historian and scholar Dr. Adelaide Cromwell, co-founder of the African Studies program at Boston University.
Born enslaved in 1846, Cromwell became a teacher before enrolling in Howard University's law school. Admitted to the bar in 1874, in 1876 he founded the newspaper, People's Advocate, and became a voice for Black education in all-Black schools, founding the Bethel Literary and Historical Association and playing a vital role in establishing the American Negro Academy. Cromwell's early writings and leadership were quickly seen as crucial, and in 1887 he was profiled in Simmons' Men of Mark alongside Frederick Douglass and Crispus Attucks. Simmons asserted: "If you ask me for the best English scholar in the United States, I would unhesitatingly refer you to John Wesley Cromwell" (Smithsonian).
Cromwell's Negro in American History, his "first full-length monograph," documents the "history of African Americans from the slave trade through Reconstruction and its aftermath" (ANB). Early recognized as a "very important work," it features lengthy biographies of Phillis Wheatley, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, as well as figures such as Reconstruction attorney Robert B. Elliott, "who helped draft legislation to fight the KKK in the South" (Smithsonian). Negro in American History is especially significant in its attention to slave revolts as "a constant menace to the safety and security of slavery." Cromwell saw Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner as folk heroes and "maintained that before the American Revolution along, approximately 25 insurrections had occurred." The work of Black historians such as Cromwell "broke fresh ground by focusing on the slaves' responses to captivity," and by evincing pride for a Black past that "laid the foundation for Black protest": raising questions and "themes that did not become popular among historians until the 1960s" (Smith, Different View of Slavery, 303-4). In his life and writings Cromwell combined "advocacy for the collective uplift of African Americans with a belief in educational advancement and intellectual achievement. His historical work placed him at the nexus of the pre-professional and professional milieus in African American scholarship" (ANB). First edition, first printing. With frontispiece and eleven full-page illustrations. This distinctive association copy possesses the owner signature of Adelaide M. Cromwell, the granddaughter of its author, John Wesley Cromwell, and the niece of Dr. Otelia Cromwell, the first African American woman to earn a doctorate from Yale. Following in their footsteps, Dr. Adelaide Cromwell also broke ground in African American history, serving as a distinguished professor at Boston University and pivotal co-founder of its African Studies Program—only the second in the country. In addition to authoring major works on Black history, she also became the first African American appointed Library Commissioner in Massachusetts.
Interior quite fresh, expert repair to rear inner hinge and a sopt at top of rear board.