Published in 1853, Whitfield's America can be regarded as one of many African American responses to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, and it can be regarded as well as a response to the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851-52). Most specifically, America was published at a time when Whitfield was beginning to turn against Frederick Douglass, who continued to cherish hopes for black elevation in the U.S., and to align himself with Martin Delany, who championed black emigration. Despite turning against Douglass, Whitfield's America shared much with Douglass's most famous speech of the 1850s, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?", and it shared much with the poetry of another abolitionist committed to black uplift in the U.S., Frances Watkins Harper. This section of the Whitfield site provides key primary documents essential to a contextual understanding of Whitfield's poetry. These documents should also prove to be useful for contextualizing the thematics of slavery and race in Whitman's and Dickinson's poetry.

Introduction Biography Poems Critical Voices Teaching Approaches Bibliography