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Michael D. Benjamin

Two Important African American Texts

Mrs A.E. Johnson. Clarence and Corinne; or, God's Way. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1890.

As the first novel written for African American children by an African American author, Clarence and Corinne represents an important moment in children's literature. The story is typical of other didactic literature written for children at the time, and also reflects the sentiments of its publisher as well as Amelia Johnson's own background. Married to a Baltimore minister, Johnson embraced the social-reform ideology of the late nineteenth century. She stressed in Clarence and Corinne that through hard work her young characters could overcome poverty to enjoy a stable and respectable middle class life.

Absalom Jones and Richard Allen. A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia, in the Year 1793. London: Reprinted and sold by Darton and Harvey, 1794.

As the chief religious and social leaders of the African American community in eighteenth-century Philadelphia, Jones and Allen respond in the Narrative to Mathew Carey's sensational allegations that Black nurses had exploited helpless and dying whites in the 1793 Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic. Jones and Allen argue that the Black community served the entire Philadelphia community honorably and tirelessly during the horrible epidemic. This copy has the added distinction of having been in the collection of the noted African American librarian, bibliographer, and book collector Daniel A.P. Murray.




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