Edge of Faith March 2017 - Page 24

enslaved Africans’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, too. When Afro-Atlantic people’s quest for equality stalled after the revolution, they crafted new ways to claim Exodus as a roadmap for freedom. While politicians like Thomas Jefferson in his 1805 inaugural address linked the nation's future to the Hebrews’ history, Afro-Atlantic authors once again decentered white Americans’ Exodus narratives by characterizing themselves as Israelites and demanding that America become an inclusive Canaan.

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uch hopes were short-lived, for in the Age of Manifest Destiny, the continued uncertainty of freedom led to the proliferation of Afro-Atlantic Exodus narratives expressing desires for new Exodus leaders, an inclusive American Canaan, or migration to disparate places ranging from Western territories to Africa. Mary Ann Shadd, emigrant to Canada West and editor of the Provincial Freedman, epitomizes this struggle for she not only urged enslaved and free blacks to relocate to a Canadian Canaan, but she published stories about Exodus figures who were laying plans for liberating slaves. In the article

the proliferation of Afro-Atlantic Exodus narratives expressing desires for new Exodus leaders, an inclusive American Canaan, or migration to disparate places ranging from Western territories to Africa. Mary Ann Shadd, emigrant to Canada West and editor of the Provincial Freedman, epitomizes this struggle for she not only urged enslaved and free blacks to relocate to a Canadian Canaan, but she published stories about Exodus figures who were laying plans for liberating slaves. In the article “Wisdom and her Children” (December 22, 1855) published in the Provincial Freeman, an anonymous writer argued that oppressed peoples throughout history had benefited from courageous military leaders. Likewise, “AS THE AMEICAN SLAVE HAS A WHITE CAPTOR, - SO HE HAS A BLACK DELIVERER. . . . He is of dignified air, and reminds one of the Joshua, of Americans, the Ajax of the Seminole notoriety!” Here the writer doubles the Exodus narrative with historical allusions the Seminoles’ successful routs of colonial and American troops to bolster his claim that a Joshua would liberate enslaved African Americans.

Yet slave rebellions staged by Nat Turner and others in the mid-1800s failed to end involuntary servitude. Abraham Lincoln’s election further exposed America’s regional divide regarding slavery, but Lincoln’s path to emancipator was not as clear cut as one might imagine. Prior to being eulogized as the slave’s best friend, Lincoln was characterized as pharaoh in a dispatch titled “Plagues of this Country” (1862) by African Methodist Episcopal minister and correspondent Henry M. Turner to the influential African American newspaper the Christian Recorder. After interpreting events leading to the Civil War as signs portending an apocalyptic end to slavery, Turner declares, “Abraham Lincoln and not Jeff Davis becomes the Pharaoh of mystic Egypt” and the “plagues” that had befallen

Lincoln’s path to emancipator was not as clear cut as one might imagine. Prior to being eulogized as the slave’s best friend, Lincoln was characterized as pharaoh in a dispatch titled “Plagues of this Country” (1862) by African Methodist Episcopal minister and correspondent Henry M. Turner to the influential African American newspaper the Christian Recorder. After interpreting events leading to the Civil War as signs portending an apocalyptic end to slavery, Turner declares, “Abraham Lincoln and not Jeff Davis becomes the Pharaoh of mystic Egypt” and the “plagues” that had befallen the country, setbacks such as the Confederates’ attack on Fort Sumter, provided irrefutable evidence that America had become Egypt and divine intervention like Revelation's plagues would purge America of the sin of slavery. When the Civil War ended slavery but birthed the violent Jim Crow era, Afro-Atlantic authors again turned to Exodus to express their persistent but disparate hopes for an American Canaan. Some embraced Joseph to pursue the

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et slave rebellions staged by Nat Turner and others in the mid-1800s failed to end involuntary servitude. Lincoln’s election further exposed America’s regional divide regarding slavery, but Lincoln’s path to emancipator was not as clear cut as one might imagine. Prior to being eulogized as the slave’s best friend, Lincoln was characterized as pharaoh in a dispatch titled “Plagues of this Country” (1862) by African Methodist Episcopal minister and correspondent Henry M. Turner to the influential African American newspaper the Christian Recorder. After interpreting events leading to the Civil War as signs portending an apocalyptic end to slavery, Turner declares, “Abraham Lincoln and not Jeff Davis becomes the Pharaoh of mystic Egypt” and the “plagues” that had befallen

Abraham Lincoln’s election further exposed America’s regional divide regarding slavery, but Lincoln’s path to emancipator was not as clear cut as one might imagine. Prior to being eulogized as the slave’s

Booker T. Washington