"An excellent edition of a fascinating narrative, one that is as imaginative (and tricky) in its approach as William Wells Brown’s work, as philosophical as anything by Frederick Douglass or Samuel Ringgold Ward, and as forceful as some of Martin R. Delany’s work. Williamson makes a strong case for Loguen’s authorship of the narrative, but even if that authorship continues to be debated, the literary, rhetorical, and philosophical dynamics of this text will be of interest to anyone at all interested in nineteenth-century African American literary, cultural, and intellectual history."—John Ernest, University of Delaware
"The personal record of a major black activist and public intellectual, Loguen’s memoir attests to black leadership on the Underground Railroad and among the increasingly radical foes of slavery on the eve of the Civil War."—William L. Andrews, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Rev. Jermain Wesley Loguen was a pioneering figure in early nineteenth-century abolitionism and African American literature. A highly respected leader in the AME Zion Church, Rev. Loguen was popularly known as the “Underground Railroad King” in Syracuse, where he helped over 1,500 fugitives escape from slavery. With a charismatic and often controversial style, Loguen lectured alongside Frederick Douglass and worked closely with well-known abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman, William Wells Brown, and William Lloyd Garrison, among others.
Originally published in 1859, The Rev. J. W. Loguen chronicles the remarkable life of a tireless young man and a passionate activist. The narrative recounts Loguen’s early life in slavery, his escape to the North, and his successful career as a minister and abolitionist in New York and Canada. Given the text’s third-person narration and novelistic style, scholars have long debated its authorship. In this edition, Williamson uncovers new research to support Loguen as the author, providing essential biographical information and buttressing the significance of his life and writing. The Rev. J. W. Loguen represents a fascinating literary hybrid, an experiment in voice and style that enlarges our understanding of the slave narrative.
Jennifer A. Williamson is director of Gender Mainstreaming and Women’s Empowerment at ACDI/VOCA, a global development organization. She is the author of Twentieth-Century Sentimentalism: Narrative Appropriation in American Literature.
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