BLACK, Leonard (1820-1883)
Life and Sufferings of Leonard Black
New Bedford: Benjamin Lindsey, 1847. Small square 8vo. 61, pp.
Publisher's lettered green paper wrappers.
Very rare first edition of a noted slave narrative.
Born a slave in Maryland and separated at a young age from his parents and siblings, Leonard Black recounts the horrors of his enslavement: beatings, starvation, branding, being passed from owner to owner like chattel, and extremely harsh treatment. At age 20, he escaped, making it as far as Portland, Maine, where he was taken in by a West Indian Minister named George Black, who would become the minister at the African Meeting House in Boston. Leonard Black married George Black's daughter and after five years in Boston, moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he studied with Francis Wayland, president of Brown University, and became an active member and student of religion at the Meetinghouse Street Church, eventually becoming a preacher himself. In 1847, he published the present slave narrative. Unlike some of his contemporaries whose narratives were widely published to promote the abolitionist cause, Black's work was evidently printed in a relatively small number, with only a handful extant. We find no copies in the auction records for the last half century.
Library Company of Philadelphia. Afro-Americana, 1553-1906 (2nd edition), supplement 219.