Atlanta: Franklin Publishing House, 1890. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding with gilt to spine and front board. An exceptionally pleasing copy, square and tight, with the gilt just a touch faded to spine and rear corners gently bumped. Contemporary ownership signature of North Carolina clergyman and AME member W. E. C. Barham, dated Raleigh, NC Nov. 1891 to both endpapers. Some offsetting to title page. Collating complete including engraved frontis: xxii, [2, blanks], 305, [1, blank]. The only copy on the market, this early Black-authored history of the AME's work for abolition and equality in the South has appeared only twice at auction.
"African American Methodists developed an emancipationist ethos drawn from the democratic principles embedded in American civil discourse and in Wesleyan theology," a sector of Protestantism that welcomed their membership even before the Revolution (Dickerson). The A.M.E [African Methodist Episcopal] Church thus became a central space for community identity and organization for people in the South seeking to move past enslavement, navigate the indignities of systemic racism, and expand their economic, political, and social opportunities. Gaines, himself a formerly enslaved person, was well aware of the realities of the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras. Education and theology provided spaces where he could discover and recognize his humanity, aiding others to do the same. The present work is his history of the A.M.E. Church's work in the South, a celebration of a quarter century of its post-Emancipation accomplishments. "In undertaking this work I have had in mind to present to my readers and to the A.M.E. Church a brief but comprehensive survey of the work of our church in the South...It has been my aim to touch upon the adjoining States to Georgia...It has been my purpose to make mention of all growth as far as I could find accurate data for it, and to bring before my readers the men whose entrance into the church work has caused this growth." Gaines also wants readers to consider this growth and how it raises questions about the future. "The fact that the color question is the question of the day, attracting more or less attention throughout our entire country -- North, East, West, South -- makes everything pertaining to the negro -- his past, his present, his future, his educational, his moral, his financial status -- all the more important....Suffice it to say, however, despite the discussions, despite the differences of opinion, the negro intends to hold his own. He has a future, and that, too, in America." A history and a call to action for the Black American communities across the nation, and a timely reminder of all accomplished and all left to do.
Not in Schomburg or Blockson. Near Fine (Item #3945)