19th Century: 1829
African American Literature 1619-1926
David Walker (1786-1830)
Appeal in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World
My dearly beloved Brethren and Fellow Citizens:
Having travelled over a considerable portion of these United States, and having, in the course of my travels, taken the most accurate observations of things as they exist- the result of my observations has warranted the full and unshaken conviction, that we, (coloured people of these United States,) are the most degraded, wretched, and abject set of beings that ever lived since the world began; and I pray God that none like us ever may live again until time shall be no more. They tell us of the Israelites in Egypt, the Helots in Sparta, and of the Roman Slaves, which last was made up from almost every nation under heaven, whose sufferings under those ancient ad heatheb bations, were, in compariso with ours, under this enlightened Chritian nation, no more than a cypher- or, in other words, those nations of antiquity, had but little moreamong them than the name and form of slavery; while wretchednes and endless miseries were reserved, apparently in a phial, to be poured out upon our fathers, ourselves and our children, by Christian Americans!
These positions I shall endeavour, by the help of the Lord, to demonstrate the course of this Appeal, to the satisfaction of the most incredulous mind- and may God Almighty, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, open your hearts to understand and believe the truth.
The causes, my brethren, which produces our wretchedness and miseries, are so very numerous and aggravating, that I believe the pen only of a Josephus or a Plutarch, can well enumerate and explain them. Upon subjects, then, of such incomprehensible magnitude, so impenetrable, and soo notorious, I shall be obliged to omit a large class of, and content myself with giving you an exposition of a few of those, which do indeed rage to such an alarming pitch, that they cannot but be a perpetual source of terror and dismay to every reflecting mind.
I m fully aware, in making this appeal to my much afflicted and suffering brethren that I shall not only be assailed by those whose greatest earthly desires are, to keep us in abject ignorance and wretchedness, and who are of the firm conviction that Heaven has designed us and our children to be slaves and beasts of burden to them and their children. I say, I do not only expect to be held up to the public as an ignorant, impudent and restless disturber of the public peace, by such avaricious creatures, as well as a mover of insubordination- and perhaps put in prison or to death, for giving a superfciall exposition of our miseries, and exposing tyrants. But I am persuaded, that many of my brethren, particularly those who are ignorantly in league with slaveholders or tyrants, who acquire their daily bread by the blood and sweat of their more ignorant brethren- and not a few of those too, who are too ignorant to see an inch beyond their noses, will rise up and call me cursed- Yea, the jealous ones among us will perhaps use more abject subtlety, by affirming that this work is not worth perusing, that we are well situated, and there is no use in trying to better our condition, for we cannot. I will ask one question here.- Can our condition be any worse?- Can it be more mean and abject? If there are any changes, will they not be for the better, though they may appear for the worst at first? Can they get us any lower? Where can they get us? They are afraid to treat us worse, for they know well, the day they do it they are gone. But against all accusations which may or can be preferred against me, I appeal to Heaven for my motive in writing--who knows that my object in writing is, if possible, to awaken in the breasts of my afflicted, degraded and slumbering brethren , a spirit of inquiry and investigation respecting our miseries and wretchedness in this REPUBLICAN LAND OF LIBERTY!!!!!!