or for being a Slave."
Author: Jupiter Hammon on September 24, 1786, in New York, while addressing the Negroes of New York on the effects of slavery. He was 76 years of age at the time of the speech and spent his entire life as a Christian slave.
The speech itself focused on Christian laws and theology. Hammon insisted Black people should rely on their beliefs emphasizing high moral standings within the community because while serving as slaves they had already secured their place in Heaven.
He also promoted the idea that gradual emancipation is a way to end slavery. Hammon knew slavery was well established in the roots of the American society and an immediate solution to end slavery all together would be quite difficult to achieve.
The first publication of the speech was promoted by the New York Quakers, a well known group who openly supported the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
In following years another charity, The Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage was established April 14, 1775, reorganized in 1787 and in 1789 was officially incorporated.
In 1785 Benjamin Franklin became the Founder’s official president. The society pressed him to address the matter at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Three years later in 1790 The Constitution of the United States was signed. Yet, it took another twenty years after the signing of the Constitution for slavery to be completely abolished in the United States of America.
Other writings of Jupiter Hammon are a poem written on Christmas day 1760 at the age of fifty, "An Evening Thought, Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries." By the time he was 80 three more poems- “An Address of Miss Phyllis Wheatly, Ethiopian Poetess"; "A Poem for Children with Thought of Death" and "A Dialogue entitled the Kind Master and the Dutiful Servant." Three sermon essays also published are “A Winter Piece: Being a Serious Exhortation with a Call to the Unconverted”; “A Short Contemplation on the Death of Jesus,” and “An Evening’s Improvement Showing the Necessity of Beholding the Lamb of God.” “An Essay of Ten Virgins” has yet to be published celebrating the visit of Prince William Henry to Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York in 1979.
Jupiter Hammon was the first black American to publish literature in the United States and thought to be the founder of African American literature.