To Awaken My Afflicted Brethren: David Walker and the Problem of Antebellum Slave Resistance.Peter Hinks. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1997. 301 pp. $45.00.
The Pennsylvania State University Pennsylvania State University, main campus at University Park, State College; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1855, opened 1859 as Farmers' High School.
I am not the first to detect similarities between Gary Collison's Shadrack Minkins: From Fugitive Slave In the history of slavery in the United States, a fugitive slave was a slave who had escaped his or her enslaver often with the intention of traveling to a place where the state of his or her enslavement was either illegal or not enforced. to Citizen and Peter Hinks's To Awaken My Afflicted af·flict
tr.v. af·flict·ed, af·flict·ing, af·flicts
To inflict grievous physical or mental suffering on.
[Middle English afflighten, from afflight, Brethren: David Walker David Walker may refer to:
David Walker and Shadrack Minkins migrated, under different circumstances, from their respective slave states of North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures
Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. and Virginia to Boston. Each, in his way, became symbolic within the black community of the struggle against slavery. Walker was born technically free, and left the South in the wake of oppression, following the Denmark Vesey Noun 1. Denmark Vesey - United States freed slave and insurrectionist in South Carolina who was involved in planning an uprising of slaves and was hanged (1767-1822)
Vesey conspiracy. Minkins, who was born a slave, expressed his thoughts on slavery in the most pragmatic sense by his flight to Boston, where he was subsequently arrested under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. It seemed that he was destined des·tine
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.
2. to be shipped back to Norfolk, but an angry group of black Bostonians freed him by storming the courtroom, and he was spirited away to Canada with the aid of the Boston Vigilance Committee Boston Vigilance Committee was an abolitionist organization formed in Boston, Massachusetts on June 4, 1841 at the Marlboro Chapel, Hall No. 3.  with the mission of aiding fugitive slaves from being kidnapped, and returned to their Southern owners in accordance with . There is no record of his having gone on to become a crusading abolitionist or an artful conductor for the Underground Railroad.
Much of what little we know of David Walker is preserved under ironic circumstances, resulting, as it does, from the frequently erupting conflicts between Frederick Douglass and rival black abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet For the Gunpowder Plot conspirator, see .
Henry Highland Garnet (December 23, 1815 – February 13, 1882) was an African American abolitionist and orator. He was the first black minister to preach to the United States House of Representatives. . In 1843 a convention of black leaders was held in Buffalo, New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , where Garnet delivered a paper that has come to be known as Garnet's Address to the Slaves of the United States, in which he enjoined enslaved Enslaved may refer to:
Five years later, Garnet finally published his Address, and the predicted racial cataclysm did not ensue. Garnet's stubborn persistence provided, aside from the obvious benefit of the document's preservation, an additional boon for historians. Garnet had long admired David Walker's Appeal, which he republished along with a short biographical preface in the same binding with his own address. The biography was maddeningly brief, but it remains the source of almost everything that we know today about the life of Walker.
Peter Hinks, an historian of great skill, dedication, and inventiveness, has undertaken the search for additional details on Walker with assiduous as·sid·u·ous
1. Constant in application or attention; diligent: an assiduous worker who strove for perfection. See Synonyms at busy.
2. professionalism, and has produced a work that is as provocative and creative as it is well-crafted. To A waken My Afflicted Brethren is more interesting for the questions it raises than for the answers it provides, however. The work demonstrates impressively the craftsmanship and perseverance of the author, and must be described as a brilliantly performed virtuoso piece, but Hinks's exhaustive search has produced little new data on Walker's life. Hinks offers some most exciting speculations - for example, those based on Walker's report that he attended at a camp meeting in South Carolina South Carolina, state of the SE United States. It is bordered by North Carolina (N), the Atlantic Ocean (SE), and Georgia (SW). Facts and Figures
Area, 31,055 sq mi (80,432 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,012,012, a 15. , around the time of the Vesey conspiracy and trial. Hinks also provides much information on the probable routes whereby Walker's Appeal was distributed. The volume is well-indexed and profusely pro·fuse
1. Plentiful; copious.
2. Giving or given freely and abundantly; extravagant: were profuse in their compliments. documented, with footnotes where they belong, securely anchoring the text to the base of every page.
Gary Collison's Shadrack Minkins treats a hazier figure, more indistinct in·dis·tinct
1. Not clearly or sharply delineated: an indistinct pattern; indistinct shapes in the gloom.
2. Faint; dim: indistinct stars.
3. than David Walker, and necessarily abounds in even more speculation. Prior to Collision's work, the most significant known details on Minkins's life were summarized in Volume II of The Black Abolitionist Papers, edited by C. Peter Ripley, Roy Finkenbine, et al. This information was partially derived from Stanley W. Campbell's The Slave Catchers. The originality of Collison's contribution is in his discovery of additional facts about Minkins's life before and during his sojourn in Boston, and after his arrival in Montreal. Collison's enthusiasm for his work is infectious, as he describes the moment of his discovery of Minkins's name on the microfilm of the manuscript of the Canadian census of 1861. "I was uncovering an African-American equivalent of a lost tribe of Israel. . . . But where was Shadrack Minkins. . . . Then a shot of adrenaline swept through me. The census taker had misheard and written down the name [Shadrack] 'Nichols' instead of 'Minkins.' "As a result, Collison now had the names of Minkins's Irish wife, Mary, and his first two children, Mary and William. He discovered references to additional children in a later census.
Collison's book is very well-written, although one wishes for a more complete index, and it would have been well to give more prominent acknowledgment to the previous scholarship on Minkins - sparse though it is. Collison provides a new and interesting perspective on the history of the Fugitive Slave Law and its victims, and adds some shading to what is still only the barest outline of a biography. The usefulness of this volume is that it competently synthesizes an appreciable amount of prior scholarship on the era of the Fugitive Slave Law. Barring the possibility of some amazing discovery that Minkins was literate after all, and that he was the author of a book or the editor of a newspaper, it seems unlikely that he will ever be as important to African American history African American history is the portion of American history that specifically discusses the African American or Black American ethnic group in the United States. Most African Americans are the descendants of African slaves held in the United States from 1619 to 1865. as David Walker. It is maddening that the sum total of biographical raw material that we can retrieve on Walker is roughly the same as that we can retrieve on Minkins. This tragic fact in itself tells us something of the brutal realities of black intellectual life in North America during the mid-nineteenth century, where so much of the literary and cultural life of the desperate communities of "Free Africans" must be reconstructed from relics whose very obscurity bears mute testimony to the instability of their freedom and the fragility of their happiness.