The Works of James McCune Smith: Black Intellectual and Abolitionist

The Works of James McCune Smith: Black Intellectual and Abolitionist


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The first African American to receive a medical degree, this invaluable collection brings together the writings of James McCune Smith, one of the foremost intellectuals in antebellum America. The Selected Writings of James McCune Smith is one of the first anthologies featuring the works of this illustrious scholar. Perhaps best known for his introduction to Fredrick Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom,  his influence is still found in a number of aspects of modern society and social interactions. And he was considered by many to be a prophet of the twenty-first century. One of the earliest advocates of the use of "black" instead of "colored," McCune Smith treated racial identities as social constructions, arguing that American literature, music, and dance would be shaped and defined by blacks. Organized chronologically, the collection covers over 40 years of writing, including speeches, letters, and essays, and begins with McCune Smith's first speech as an 11-year old boy to the Marquis de Lafayette. Providing historical context for McCune Smith's current cultural relevance, this book showcases writings on black education and self-help, citizenship, and the fight against racism.


Richard S. Newman, author of Freedom's Prophet
A brilliant collection.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University, author of The African American Century
John Stauffer has done that rarest of things: he has resurrected from the archives of nineteenth-century journalism a major thinker and writer, one of the signal canonical figures in the African American canon. It should give pause to all of us that a writer of such monumental import to his times and to the African American tradition could have been lost or silenced, in the main, for a century and a half. Thanks to the stellar editorial and research skills of John Stauffer, James McCune Smith's permanent place in the canon has been secured, as if a prodigal son has returned to the fold. And this is a cause for joy among all of us who love great literature, and who fancy ourselves as citizens - with McCune Smith - of the Republic of Letters.
Last updated on 08/12/2011